Briton accused by Indian authorities of 'influencing youth through social media'

A British man holidaying in India has appeared in court accused of "influencing the youth through social media", a group supporting him said.

The Sikh Federation UK said Jagtar Singh Johal from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, had a sack thrown over his head and was forced into a van by plain-clothes officers on November 4.

Mr Johal's brother and local MP have asked British authorities to intervene in the case

Mr Johal's brother and local MP have asked British authorities to intervene in the case

The 30-year-old was reportedly out shopping with his wife and cousin when the incident happened in Jalandhar in the state of Punjab.

Mr Johal's crimes reportedly include "running a magazine" in the UK of atrocities during the 1984 Sikh Genocide and "influencing the youth through social media".

He appeared in court for a second time on Friday, with no legal representation, having been "sneaked in" without his lawyers being made aware, the federation said.

Adviser Jas Singh said: "His legal team and someone from the British High Commission were present, but the authorities didn't inform them that he was about to have his hearing.

"They snuck him in and presented him to the judge without legal representation. No one met him and we have no idea of his physical state."

Mr Johal, who recently married, is said to have been in the country since October 2 for his wedding.

He is due to appear for another hearing on Tuesday, although the federation said his name has not appeared on any charge. His lawyers have applied for emergency visitation.

Elder brother Gurpreet Singh Johal said: " Unless the British authorities quickly step in this will guarantee a law-abiding British citizen will be illegally detained for some time and will not receive a fair trial. He should be immediately released and returned to the UK."

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: "We are in contact with the family of a British man who has been detained in India.

"Our staff are in contact with the Indian authorities regarding his case."

The Sikh Federation UK has been acting as Mr Johal's representative since his arrest and is providing support to his relatives.

Martin Docherty-Hughes, SNP MP for West Dunbartonshire, has also been supporting the family.

He said: "I am deeply concerned about the circumstances of Jagtar Singh Johal's arrest and imprisonment in India.

"The lack of information being given to Jagtar's family by the police and judicial authorities in Delhi following his arrest is alarming.

"I have raised this as a matter of urgency with the British High Commission of India and the Foreign Office.

"I will also be contacting the Foreign Secretary and the Scottish Government to ensure that Jagtar and his family are not unfairly mistreated by the Indian authorities. "

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved.