A SCOT languishing in an Indian prison is being denied video calls, his family have claimed.

Lord David Cameron has confirmed the UK Government will not urge the Indian authorities to release Dumbarton man Jagtar “Jaggi” Singh Johal, in correspondence seen by The National.

The Foreign Secretary dismissed calls for the UK Government to press Jaggi’s case, saying such a move would be “ineffective at best”.

The National: Jagtar Singh Johal

Jaggi (above) has alleged he has been tortured by Indian police after his arrest in Jalandhar, Punjab in 2017. 

Now his family have said that he is being denied video calls from prison, despite a court order mandating the superintendent of the Mandoli jail in New Delhi to allow them.

Responding to a letter from Jaggi’s MP, Martin Docherty-Hughes, Lord Cameron wrote: “Our assessment remains that calling for release would be considered interference in the ongoing Indian judicial process against Mr Johal. We consider that such a move would be, at best, ineffective.

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“At worst, it could jeopardise our ability to offer consular assistance in Mr Johal's case. The best interests of British nationals are at the heart of our approach to consular assistance. This leads us to conclude that calling for release is not the best course of action in Mr Johal's case.”

'Cruelty for the sake of it'

Jaggi's brother Gurpreet Singh Johal described the refusal of video calls as “cruelty for the sake of it”.

He said: “People might say ‘it’s just a videocall’ but try to imagine not even being able to see someone you love for years and perhaps you’ll understand how painful this has been for us.

“Jagtar will hardly recognise his nephews when he next sees them – his eldest nephew turned 13 this week and has grown so much since the last call two years ago. Denying him the chance to talk to his family on video is just cruelty for the sake of it.”

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And he hit out at Lord Cameron’s commitment that the UK would “continue to raise our concerns about Mr Johal’s case” with the Indian government.

Gurpreet said: “At this point, ‘raising’ Jagtar’s case is almost meaningless. They keep saying they’re ‘raising’ it but never get any closer to bringing him home.”

The National: Martin Docherty-Hughes MP

Docherty-Hughes (above) slammed Lord Cameron’s response, accusing the UK Government of having “long lost any sense of right and wrong in dealing with the Indian government”.

He added: “One thing is now clear – the UK is happy to prioritise a free trade agreement with India while a UK citizen languishes in an Indian prison ... and the price for any of our human rights being abused by foreign states is a sub-one per cent bump in GDP.”

The Singh Johal family have been supported by human rights organisation Reprieve in their quest to secure Jaggi’s freedom.

The group’s head of communications Andrew Purcell said: “The UK Government says it needs to respect the Indian judicial process, but Jagtar’s jailers won't even respect a direct court order to allow him to have video calls.”

Jaggi was arrested in 2017 on suspicion of being involved with Sikh extremists. Indian authorities allege he was involved in the politically motivated killings of right-wing Hindu politicians. He denies the charges but could face the death penalty if he is found guilty. 

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The UK Government is committed to seeing Jagtar Singh Johal’s case resolved as soon as possible.

“We continue to provide consular assistance to Mr Johal and his family, and have consistently raised his case directly with the Government of India.”