FAMILY of a Glasgow-born man imprisoned in India for almost 900 days say they have not heard from him since September and fear for his health.

Gurpreet Singh Johal last spoke to his brother, 33-year-old Jagtar 'Jaggi' Johal, on the 5th of September, 2019.

Tihar Jail went into lockdown with the rest of India in March, and prison authorities have suspended all visits due to lockdown, including for consular access.

Now Gurpreet, a 34-year-old Immigration lawyer from Glasgow's west end, knows nothing about his brother's health.

Gurpreet told The Glasgow Times: "We think it is hard being in lockdown for 30 or so days, but that's nothing compared to being in prison in India for almost 900 days.

"We have got a family history of respiratory weakness and have no idea what conditions Jaggi is imprisoned in. How is his well-being?"

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He added: "We have had no contact or visits or conversations. We don't know anything. We have to rely on what the FCO tell us, and they are relying on what the prison tells them over the phone. All we want is a clarification that he is fine, how he's doing. And then we want him released, for him and his wife to start their lives together."

Jaggi, a member of the Central Gurdwara in Glasgow, was arrested two weeks after his Punjabi wedding in November 2017 while shopping with his wife. According to Gurpreet, authorities "pulled him off the street with a hood over his head" for his alleged involvement in a murder plot.

Jaggi and his family maintain strongly that he is innocent.

Gurpreet said: "We believe he has been subjected to torture while imprisoned. He was bungled into a van for days and came out with marks on his legs.

“Theresa May put Jaggi’s case to the Indian Prime Minister in April 2018 but still nothing has happened and we are no closer to knowing if he is okay, and now during lockdown it has become even harder.”

“No one from the family is able to go over to India now. It has been a nightmare for our family."

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Jaggi is currently held in prison on seven counts of murder.

According to Gurpreet, Jaggi has made more than 220 court appearances, but no evidence has been led against him - despite initial claims that Indian authorities had everything they needed to prosecute him.

His family are yet to see an official charge sheet.

On March 24, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi put India’s 1.3 billion population under a 21-day lockdown.

India currently has 49,391 cases, and 1,694 deaths from Covid-19. Jagtar is currently part of South Asia’s largest prison complex alongside thousands of others.

Gurpeet said: “We don’t even know what the other prisoners are like. The one consolation we do have is there’s another British national in the same jail.

“We are reliant on the FCO and then the Tihar jail for news on Jaggi.

“I don’t believe they will tell us even if he does have Covid-19. This is just one unimaginable nightmare. I keep thinking one day I will wake up from it.”

Jaggi's family now live in Dumbarton. SNP MP for the area, Martin Docherty-Hughes, told The Glasgow Times:

“The past 6 weeks have been tough for all of us unable to see our close friends and family; it's hard to imagine though what it's been like for Jagtar's loved ones here in West Dunbartonshire who haven't seen their son and brother for two and a half years.

"The Indian authorities continue to hold my constituent Jagtar in prison in Delhi on alleged charges which he and his family strongly deny.

"They have maintained his innocence from the beginning, and remain deeply concerned for Jagtar's wellbeing following allegations of torture and mistreatment during his detention in India.

“Despite countless court hearings, my constituent remains incarcerated without conviction nor any evidence presented against him.

“Having been denied access to an independent medical examination, Jagtar's current health condition is unclear and there are serious concerns about his risk of contracting Covid-19 in cramped prison conditions.

“Jagtar's family have shown remarkable strength and determination during these difficult times. I will continue to press the UK government to safeguard Jagtar's human rights and speak up for fairness, justice and due process."

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Jackie Baillie, Labour MSP for Dumbarton, said: "The treatment of Jagtar Singh Johal has raised serious concerns and his family deserve some answers.

"The fact that they have not heard from Jagtar since September, and the effect that Covid-19 has had on his ability to be in contact with his lawyer, will mean that an already incredibly stressful situation has been made far more worrying.

"I hope that the UK Government continues to fight for Jagtar’s immediate release and that justice is served soon for himself and his family."

A spokesperson from the FCO said:

“Our staff continue to support Jagtar following his detention in India and are in regular contact with his family and prison officials about his health and wellbeing.

“The Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, has written to the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs to request an update on this case.

"Lord Ahmad has also offered to meet with Jagtar’s brother to discuss the case.”