A Khalistani supporter has been reportedly arrested in London for pulling down the Indian flag from the first floor facade of the Indian High Commission on Sunday. In response, the High Commission put up a huge tricolor on the building.
The UK media quoting a police spokesperson said: “An investigation was launched, and one male was arrested nearby a short time later on suspicion of violent disorder. Inquiries continue”.
But India is incensed over the act of vandalism at the High Commission, according to a media report. The Hindustan Times points out that the Modi government had informed the British government as well as the MI-5 about the planned protests by Khalistani extremists earlier this month and was seeking action.
India feels that the pulling down of the national flag from the High Commission and the breaking of windows is a pointer to the indifference of the British system towards Indian sensitivities and the security of the diplomatic premises.
I condemn the disgraceful acts today against the people and premises of the @HCI_London – totally unacceptable.
— Alex Ellis (@AlexWEllis) March 19, 2023
Following the incident, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had summoned Deputy High Commissioner Christina Scott late on Sunday evening. The MEA reportedly conveyed to her that the British government’s “indifference” to Indian diplomats and personnel is “unacceptable”.
India is concerned also because in 2019, Khalistani and Pakistani supporters had attacked a celebration of Indian families and children outside the High Commission and had damaged the property at that time as well.
The government wants the British Government to take action against the radicals, but is struggling with making the British realise that more attention has to be paid to Indian security concerns in the UK. India feels that the UK is still promoting disaffection towards India, particularly towards the Modi government.
The Indian High Commission in London also plans to send across a blunt message to the British government. It wants security to be provided to the High Commission and its staff against the UK-based Khalistani extremists. India expects reciprocity from the British government vis-a-vis the security it provides to British diplomats in New Delhi.
Armed police should have been in place at the entrance of the IHC to taser the vandal as soon as he started to scale the wall.
It was poor intelligence and policing @metpoliceuk
Khalistani thugs have historically been backed by #Pakistan to cause unrest in #India. https://t.co/vvp7w9wimH
— Chris Blackburn (@CJBdingo25) March 20, 2023
According to the HT report, India has identified the man behind the Sunday protest who comes from a family of Khalistani radicals. The UK-based asylum seeker Avtar Singh Khanda, whose father Kulwant Singh Khukrana was a terrorist of the Khalistan Liberation Force, marshalled radical Sikh students for the Sunday attack on the Indian High Commission.
The Indian government is now bracing itself up for another protest against India on March 22 by the US-based Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) group. Led by designated extremist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, the SFJ has been active in the USA, Canada, Australia and also the UK. It has been allowed to raise funds through UK Gurudwaras despite evidence shared by Indian intelligence agencies with their British counterparts.
On March 19, the SJP had organised a Khalistan referendum in Brisbane, Australia, which saw poor turnout. Experts say the action undertaken by the Punjab Police on the radical Amritpal Singh and his followers in Punjab and nearby states had an impact on the Sikh diaspora in Australia, which has seen violence on earlier occasions.
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