Jackie Baillie MSP and Minister Fiona Hyslop.
By Democrat reporter
Mark Field, the Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, agreed to meet the family of Dumbarton man Jagtar Singh Johal, who is detained in prison without charge in the Punjab and is reported to have been tortured.
However, with the election looming on December 12, the matter will have to rest until the outcome is known.
Fiona Hyslop, the SNP Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs told the Scottish Parliament: “We are deeply concerned to learn about the detention of Jagtar Singh Johal.
“Scottish Government officials have contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about the case and the Foreign Office has assured us that it is aware of the situation and has had access to Mr Johal. Consular assistance is a matter for the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government would usually refer individuals to the FCO’s consular affairs department, which works with foreign Governments and authorities in such circumstances.
“Consular officials continue to provide assistance to Mr Johal and are engaging with his family.”
MSP Rona Mackay asked: “Will the cabinet secretary commit to engaging with the UK Government to ensure that everything possible is being done to secure Jagtar Singh Johal’s well-being and release?”
Fiona Hyslop replied: “Scottish Government officials are in regular contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and I will continue to liaise with them about this very serious case.”
Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie said: “The cabinet secretary will be aware that Mr Johal was visiting India to attend his wedding and that for the first 10 days he was denied access to lawyers, representatives of the British high commission and his family.
“He has not been charged, he remains in police custody and he is continuing to be mistreated by the Indian authorities. I appreciate the representations that have been made to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“However, I urge the cabinet secretary to make urgent representations to the high commissioner of India and to use any diplomatic channels open to the Scottish Government to secure Mr Johal’s release.”
Fiona Hyslop told Ms Baillie: “We are well aware of the seriousness of the case and the reports and allegations.
“We are pleased that Mark Field, the Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, has agreed to meet Mr Johal’s family. I am sure that the points that Ms Baillie raises will be presented during that discussion.
“As the member will know, diplomatic approaches can be a way to make progress in some areas.
“However, sometimes such diplomacy means that we have to work with others to understand the correct and most useful way forward to ensure that progress is made.”