A BRIT war hero wrongly jailed in India has been viciously attacked by medical staff and forced into a mental hospital, The Sun can reveal.
John Armstrong – one of the Chennai Six – was set upon by around 15 guards and inmates, punched and strangled by the hospital staff, tied to a bed and forcibly injected with a powerful sedative.
When he woke the next day he was still tied to the bed and was attached to a drip which was medicating him with a mystery drug.
He was then forced to take powerful anti-psychotic drugs even though there was nothing wrong with him.
No effort was made to monitor his heart rate as medical staff would in the UK if they administered such strong medication.
A formal complaint has been made to the Indian government by the Foreign Office and John’s furious family have demanded answers.
His sister Joanne, 31, said: “It is outrageous that an innocent man can be taken against his will by a gang of prison guards to a mental hospital.
“And then to be tied to a bed and injected against your will with an unknown drug – it beggars belief.
“We are terrified what might happen next.”
John, 29, was one of six British ex-military men detained in 2013 when the Indian coastguard accused them of carrying guns without permits while working on anti-piracy vessel.
Their paperwork – issued by the British Government – was in order but a judge still jailed them for five years in January.
They are being held in Puzhal Central Jail, in Chennai, which used to be known as Madras, banged up alongside terrorists, rapists and killers.
The vast prison houses 3,000 men and women and is blighted by overcrowding and violence.
The men have been struck down by dysentery in 50C heat, their toilet is a hole in the ground and they aren’t provided with toilet paper.
But despite the horrific conditions their families thought they were at least safe from mistreatment and abuse – until now.
John, of Wigton, Cumbria, was at a loss as to why he was targeted. But his family have been informed the guards thought he was losing his mind because he was walking around the prison compound to keep himself occupied.
John is among the six detained in the tough Indian prison[/caption]
Accountant Joanne said: “The daft thing is that John doesn’t walk because he is going crazy, he does it to keep sane.
“All the men have their own thing to occupy themselves otherwise they would go mad.
“For John it is walking. He walks from the moment he gets out of his cell until the moment he has to go back in.
“He has done that ever since he arrived at the jail.” John’s official statement about the incident to the Foreign Office makes chilling reading.
He said: “The chief warder pulled up next to me and told me to get on the bus as I was to be taken to the hospital for a full body check up.
“I kept walking and a number of prison guards got off the bus. I walked to the other side of the main courtyard when I was met by a large group of officers.
“I asked why they want to take me to hospital and I got no answer.
“The jailer then grabbed me and all the guards and prisoners present join in grabbing me and trying to shove me on the prison bus.
“This lasted a good few minutes. I was taken to IMH [Institute of Mental Heath].
“I was brought in to see a doctor. He ordered me to have an injection which I refused and the chief warder told me it was a pain killer injection which I knew wasn’t true.
“At least five plain clothed people entered my cell.
“They pinned me down to the floor, wrapped a rag around my neck choking me until I was barely conscious, tied me up, punched my arms, ribs and legs and then injected me.
“I was later tied to a bed by my hands and legs and put on a drip.
A guard at the gate to Chennai Central Prison where the six war heroes are held[/caption]
"I woke the next day, untied and given tablets three times daily." John gave more details in an letter passed to The Sun.
He said: "There were around 15 men involved who got me on the bus. They were not professional about it and I was left with cuts and bruises.
"I was injected around 6pm and didn't wake up until around 5am the next day. I was still tied to the bed attached to a drip and felt really drowsy.
"I had no idea what they injected me with or what was in the drip and have still not been told to this day.
"They didn't even untie me to feed me my breakfast.
"My blood pressure was taken at the hospital but once I was back at the prison it was never checked even though I was still on all this medication.
"And they never monitored my heart at any stage, even in the hospital after I was injected against my will."
John has never been told which drugs he was ordered to take but he managed to make a note of their names which he passed to his family.
The drugs include: Sodium valproate - A mood stabiliser, its original use was to treat epilepsy.
Clonazepam - Used as a sedative or to treat anxiety.
Olanzapine - An anti-psychotic drug.
Chlorpromazine - Also an anti-psychotic.
Trihexyphenipyl hydrochloride - Anti-cholinergic medication. Used to reduce stiffness or shaking in limbs which can be caused by anti-psychotic drugs.
A Royal College of Psychiatrists spokesman said: “When someone is admitted to hospital with psychosis the guidelines recommend they have an electrocardiogram to check their heart rhythm because anti-psychotics, especially in a high total dosage, can potentially affect the rhythm.”
He was held in the hospital for 11 days before being returned to prison.
The incident happened before Christmas but John's family kept it under wraps until an official complaint had been filed.
This has now been done and his family have decided they want to expose the appalling treatment he has suffered.
Joanne, of Wigton, said: "It was devastating when we got the phone call from the Foreign Office to tell us what had happened to John.
"It was the worst thing we had had to deal with since he was first detained.
"It took everything to another level, it was beyond worrying. And of course what makes it worse is that he is so far away and we just felt so helpless.
"But it also really puzzled us because we had been to visit John just 2 weeks before and he was absolutely fine.
"It is outrageous that an innocent man can be taken against his will by a gang of prison guards to a mental hospital"
"We knew there was nothing wrong with him mentally. We just didn't know why this had happened.
"The Foreign Office got in touch again a few days later and passed on a brief message from John. He said don't worry about me but of course we did.
"Then we got a letter from him explaining exactly what had happened, which was just awful.
"To read that your loved one has been forced into a mental institute, attacked and held down by lots of men, tied to a bed and injected against his will is unbelievable.
"It was truly devastating to read that.
"We thought what had happened when John was sent to prison couldn't get any worse, but it has.
"Throughout all of this we have at least been reassured that the men were not being mistreated but then this happened.
PUZHAL Central Jail houses 3,000 men and women and was dubbed Asia’s largest prison when it opened in 2006.
Authorities boast that it is a model prison but human rights activists have complained of overcrowding and a lack of medical facilities after a number of prisoners died.
Convicted Islamic terrorists rioted there just months before the men arrived. They used iron bars and home-made knives to attack guards, taking two hostage.
And in 2009 a gangland hitman was murdered in a row over an illicit mobile phone racket. Two other inmates slashed his neck with a piece of metal.
A former inmate said prisoners had to clean their toilets with mud at times as there was no water.
"And of course it makes you worry that it could happen again and next time it could be worse.
"The only thing that keeps us going is John's own strength, physically and mentally. He is incredibly matter of fact about everything and has coped so far.
"So if he is coping we have to cope and know that one day this nightmare will be over.
"But first we need answers from the British Government and the Foreign Office.
"Why was John targeted? What was he injected with? Why has he been given such powerful anti-psychotic drugs when he is not suffering from psychosis?
"And why has no proper monitoring of things like his heart rate been done?
"And most importantly of all we need a reassurance that this will never happen again."
Alongside John in prison are Nick Dunn, 30, of Ashington, Northumberland; Ray Tindall, 41, of Chester; Nicholas Simpson, 46, of Catterick, North Yorkshire; Paul Towers, 53, of Pocklington, East Yorkshire; and Billy Irving, 36, of Oban, Scotland.
They clocked up 74 years' service between them including tours of Iraq and Afghanistan where they were blown up by IEDs and shot at by jihadists.
The campaign to free them has the backing of more than 20 MPs and Prince Charles, Prince Harry and Joanna Lumley have sent messages of support.
BRITS in the anti-piracy team were given permits to carry the guns by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.
The Indian High Court at first accepted the paperwork was in order and dismissed the case.
But the police appealed and another court decided the men had failed to prove they were not gun runners arming militants.
In January they were found guilty by the court and sentenced to five years.
Lawyers are now preparing an appeal.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We take all allegations of torture or mistreatment very seriously.
When an issue is raised, if the individual consents, we will always urgently request a full and independent investigation be put in place by the local authorities and closely monitor the situation.
"Foreign Office staff in India have been providing support to all six men in Chennai since their arrest and continue to work to make sure their welfare is protected in prison. We are in regular contact with their families in the UK.
“We recognise what a difficult time this is for those involved and we have taken significant action on this case.”
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