Sunderland shopkeeper arrested in India over alleged terrorism and gun offences

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A SUNDERLAND shopkeeper is being questioned over alleged terrorism and gun offences in India.

Jaswant Singh Azad is in custody facing accusations of funding terror squads, giving support to Sikh militants in Punjab, and carrying a 9mm pistol and 15 rounds of ammunition.

Label shot of newsagents in Carlisle Terrace on North Hylton Road, Southwick.

Label shot of newsagents in Carlisle Terrace on North Hylton Road, Southwick.

The 60-year-old father-of-four has run a newsagents in Carlisle Terrace, Southwick, for nearly 30 years.

His wife Jasreigh Kaur said she feared for his health and protested his innocence.

“My husband is a shopkeeper, not a terror financier.

“These allegations are so false that I was bemused at the suggestion of them. We have loyal customers 
who all know and respect my husband as we work every single day of the year.

“We have been law abiding UK citizens for more than 40 years and all our children were born here. The UK is our home.

“My children still have student debts and I have a mortgage. We don’t have access to the kind of money that these allegations seem to indicate we should have.”

Police in Jalandhar, where Mr Azad is being held, claim he was managing anti-government terrorist sleeper cells by providing them with money, networking and hideouts and used students to transfer the money.

Secret services claim to have evidence of him meeting wanted terrorists in Pakistan.

Police chief Gaurav Yadav alleges Mr Azad also has links to a Scottish-based group which funds outlawed Sikh militants.

The Foreign Office confirmed that a British national was arrested and that consular assistance was being provided to the family.

Mrs Azad said she shocked to discover her husband of 40 years had been arrested as a suspected militant.

“I started crying after seeing articles and a picture of him on the internet stating he was connected to Indian terrorist organisations.

“I have repeatedly tried to speak to my husband, but have been denied access.

“A lawyer should have been appointed to him as soon as he was arrested but one was not and he is being deprived of a fair legal process.

“As a result I have spoken to my local MP and gotten the Foreign Office involved.”

Mrs Azad said her husband had only returned to India to build a retirement home in his ancestral village, and finish a number of charitable deeds he was doing for the local school in the village.

She added: “At the moment my husband is still under questioning and no charges have officially been made.

“A mistake has been made and the sooner this mistake can be cleared up, the better.

“We have contacted Amnesty International and I feel I am trapped in a nightmare where there is no going forward.”

And the grandmother-of-one said she was shocked by reports of her husband’s arrest in the Indian press.

“The articles I have read have suggested that my husband is a known militant, and the inference is that he is guilty before he has been proven innocent.

“Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? He is an innocent man and my family and I will fight this until we breathe no longer.

“There is some jealousy when non-resident Sikhs return to India with higher comparable wealth to the locals, and I feel that this has prompted my husband’s arrest.

“There is absolutely no foundation to these allegations.

“My husband has never possessed any firearms, and would have absolutely no knowledge of how to use one correctly.

“This is another incredibly fabricated allegation.”

Twitter: @janethejourno