The Glasgow Gurdwara where Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswamy was prevented by extremists from attending a meeting (Photo: IANS)
Apparently criticising the British government for not tackling the extremist elements, Colin Bloom, a former advisor to the Boris Johnson government, has demanded an apology for the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Vikram Doraiswami, following an incident in which he was prevented from attending an event at Glasgow Gurdwara.
Bloom described the so-called Khalistan movement as a “power grab” by pro-Khalistan extremists seeking to take control of Gurdwaras.
Bloom was reacting to the disruption, of the planned interaction of the Indian High Commissioner with the Sikh community at Glasgow Gurdwara, by “extremist elements” on Saturday.
“My understanding is, and I think I’m right in saying that the Gurudwara in Glasgow, the committee had arranged an event to host the Indian High Commissioner and others to come to an event and to have a reception at the Gurudwara complex. These guys turned up and had harassed the management committee and then had harassed the Indian High Commissioner and sadly, he had to leave. It’s very sad for the people who had planned to attend the event, those who had organized it at the Gurudwara, and, of course, for the Indian High Commissioner, because this was precisely the sort of event that I’m sure he would have wanted to attend,” he said in an exclusive interview to ANI.
“I was very shocked when I saw what had happened at the Gurudwara in Glasgow. And I think that it sort of highlights and demonstrates just how concerning the issue of both Khalistan extremists are, but also how the pro-Khalistan sort of activists, just how far they’re prepared to travel and what they’re prepared to do,” he added.
Scotland Police has responded to the incident and said that the case is under investigation.
Urging the UK administration to act against the extremist elements, he said, “But, the individuals concerned feel that they have a legitimate case and that they feel that they can harass and intimidate people. And I think that’s completely wrong and they need to be dealt with for what they’re doing. And I feel very sorry for everyone involved, I think particularly the High Commissioner, who deserves an apology.”
Bloom is the author of ‘The Bloom Review, Does Government do God?’. He was also appointed by former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as an Independent Faith Engagement advisor in order to make suggestions on how the government should interact with religious organisations in England.
He also cautioned that the incident on Saturday is just a minor illustration of “something much, much bigger” that has been “going on and getting bigger” for many years.
Bloom also emphasised that the majority of people from the Sikh community are peaceful people and don’t represent extremist ideology. He, however, also pointed out a “power grab” stating that the fringe elements end up taking over the management of the Gurdwaras in many instances.
“I think what it shows is that there is actually the vast majority of British Sikhs are amongst the nicest, kindest, most generous and peaceful people you’d ever want to meet. What I’m talking about is a tiny, tiny minority who are within the Sikh community who have these either extremist or certainly very aggressive and militant tendencies, and that they have to travel so far to do it,” Bloom said.
He said that such incidents point to extremists desire to grab power, wealth and influence.
He added, “What you’re seeing with the Khalistan movement, I believe is really a power grab. This is about money and power that some people want. It’s not about being a Sikh… I had some people who gave me evidence to say that Gurdwaras, the management committee of Gurdwaras are being routinely taken over by these fringe elements”.
The former government advisor observed that the majority of British Sikhs simply wish to lead their lives without disruption, but they are unnerved and intimidated by the “ugly spectre of extremists”.
In another incident on Saturday, a Sikh restaurant owner, who earlier received threats from Khalistani elements for being vocal against them, alleged that his car was shot at and vandalised by the extremists in West London.
Bloom also pointed out an earlier incident from the year, when the Indian High Commission in UK was attacked by some extremist elements and called it an “intense embarrassment” to the British people.
“So I suspect that the diplomatic protection teams will be looking at doing a risk assessment on the Indian High Commission, Indian High Commissioner and other diplomats from the Indian High Commission to make sure that in future they are kept safe,” the former advisor said.
He added, “We did have in recent times…a very worrying incident that happened at the Indian High Commission where thugs were able to climb and change the flag, the Indian flag, for, Khalistani flag know, that was a moment of intense embarrassment to the British people, I think…and it’s something that we must make sure never happens again. But unless we deal with then I rather fear that these thugs and extremists will try again and they will try and do worse”.
Notably, the report by Colin Bloom for the UK government warned that some pro-Khalistan Sikh groups aim to artificially inflate their influence by lobbying political bodies under the guise of human rights activism, presenting a false appearance of legitimacy.
It noted that the subversive, sectarian, and discriminatory activities of these groups do not reflect the true nature of the majority of British Sikh communities.