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Boris Johnson says India arbitrarily detaining British Sikh activist

Boris Johnson has for the first time said that the Indian government is arbitrarily detaining Jagtar Singh Johal, the British Sikh activist held in an Indian jail for four and a half years.

In a letter to Keir Starmer seen by the Guardian, the prime minister says Singh has been arbitrarily detained without formal charges being laid against him. He was arrested in 2017 over his alleged role in killings by the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), a banned terrorist organisation.

His brother Gurpreet Singh Johal, who had a meeting with the Labour leader and the shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, on Thursday, hailed the admission as a breakthrough but asked why it had taken so long.

A UN panel on arbitrary detention last month also acknowledged that Jagtar Singh Johal has been arbitrarily detained, without any prosecution started.

Gurpreet Singh Johal said: “I was grateful for Keir’s intervention and for him to meet earlier today. He very quickly understood that time is of the essence and if the UK government do not act then a British national could be given the death penalty based on false allegations and manufactured charges.

“This is a breakthrough moment. I will never forget that it took the UK government almost five years to acknowledge that my brother is arbitrarily detained, or that they only did so after a nudge from the UN and the leader of the opposition, but at least they got there in the end. The next step is to demand his release and bring him home.” Read the full story in The Guardian.