John McDonnell MP
I am here because of my personal concern about Mr Johal, but also because of the scale of representation that I have received from my constituents. The Government need to recognise the truly immense worry in our own country about this case. People are concerned because they have witnessed how Mr Johal can be picked up in this way, detained and deprived of his liberty. They feel that if it can happen to him, it can happen to any one of them, especially those who have raised real fears, concerns and criticisms about the current Indian Government’s human rights practices.
Those of us with family connections to India have immense affection for the country and its people. It pains me to see the reputational damage that has been caused to India by the actions of its Government in relation to Mr Johal’s case. I just want to ask a few basic questions about where our Government go from here.
First, in the light of the failure of their representations on Mr Johal’s case so far, can the Minister explain to us the strategy the Government will now pursue for effective representations from our Government directly to the Indian Government? Secondly, can the Minister explain their strategy to co-ordinate the representations from other countries and international bodies in order to create a climate of opinion that will, hopefully, force the Indian Government to act? What is the strategy to co-ordinate the work of human rights bodies to investigate and report on the adherence or non-adherence to basic human rights standards by the Indian authorities in relation to this case? Finally, if there are continued delays, what sanctions are the Government now prepared to take—politically, diplomatically, and if necessary economically—to either secure the release of Mr Johal or at least ensure that justice is done in this case?
There is a sense of frustration now within our own communities at the failure of the Government to act decisively. That is undermining confidence that our Government will actually protect their citizens when they travel abroad. I urge the Government strongly to listen to the representations that have been made so eloquently today, which I fully agree with, and to act. For goodness’ sake, we need speedy action on this appalling case.