British High Commission team meets Jagtar Johal as Punjab Chief Minister accuses ‘pro-Khalistani elements’ for politicizing his arrest


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Jagtar Singh Johal

Ludhiana (Punjab): A three-member team from the British High Commission on Friday met UK national Jagtar Singh Johal, arrested in connection with targeted killings in Punjab, to ascertain whether he was subjected to any human rights violation.

The team from Delhi remained with Johal for about an hour, said Deputy Commissioner of Police Dhruman Nimble.

The commission officials asked the accused whether he was being given facilities available to all prisoners. He was also asked whether he was being tortured.

 

Amarinder Singh

MEANWHILE, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Friday in Chandigarh that “certain pro-Khalistani elements” were politicising the arrest of Johal in the state, and slammed opposition parties for making baseless statements.

Johal, 30, was among five people arrested in connection with targeted killings, including that of RSS leader Jagdish Gagneja. The Scottish-born Sikh was arrested from Jalandhar, where he had come for his wedding last month.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have raised doubts over Punjab Police’s claims about Johal’s involvement in targeted killings. They have asked the state government to provide evidence to prove his complicity.

The Chief Minister said it was “unfortunate” that the opposition parties were siding with those allegedly conspiring to malign the Punjab Police and the state government.

Describing those opposing Johal’s arrest as “working against the interests of India, particularly Punjab,” Singh said such elements were trying to disturb peace and harmony in the state.

“The whole issue was being sought to be politicized by certain pro-Khalistani elements and it was unfortunate that Punjab’s own leaders were adding their voice to these elements,” he said.

“Radical elements based in Britain and some other countries had launched a false and slanderous orchestrated media campaign against the Punjab government and Punjab Police.”

The police have claimed they have “sufficient” evidence to prove Johal’s complicity in targeted killings. They have also claimed Johal was involved in conspiracy, coordination, funding and arranging of weapons for members of the Khalistan Liberation Front (KLF) module busted in connections with the targeted killings.

There was a well-planned conspiracy at work in this whole affair, Amarinder Singh said in a statement.

He said his government was more concerned about maintaining Punjab’s peace, rather than worrying about perceived embarrassment at the hands of foreign forces, which had no stake in India’s security or development.

Singh said India never interfered in other countries’ policing and legal matters, even if an Indian citizen were involved, and expected the same respect and diplomatic propriety to be followed by other nations.

On Tuesday, the UK government said it would take “extreme action” if any British citizen is being tortured after Johal’s case was raised in the the House of Commons.