UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman during a taskforce launch event in Leeds, earlier this month (Image courtesy: Twitter/@10DowningStreet)
India on Wednesday specifically conveyed to the British government its concerns on the misuse of UK’s asylum status by the pro-Khalistani elements to aid and abet terrorist activities in India.
The issue of anti-India activities in the United Kingdom, including pro-Khalistan extremism, was discussed extensively during the fifth edition of the India-UK Home Affairs Dialogue held in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The Indian delegation was led by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla while the Permanent Secretary from the Home Office, Matthew Rycroft spearheaded the discussions from the UK side in the meeting also attended by other senior officials from both countries.
“The Indian side specifically conveyed its concerns on the misuse of UK’s asylum status by the pro-Khalistani elements to aid and abet terrorist activities in India and requested better cooperation with UK and increased monitoring of UK based pro-Khalistan extremists and take appropriate proactive action,” said a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs after the meeting.
Both sides also reviewed the ongoing cooperation and identified further steps that can be taken to explore opportunities and synergies in advancing cooperation in counter-terrorism, cyber security and global supply chains, drug trafficking, migration, extradition, etc.
India’s concerns over the breach of security of the Indian High Commission were also emphasised during the discussions.
On March 19, chanting pro-Khalistan slogans, separatist and extremist elements took down the Indian flag at the High Commission in London, following which India summoned the senior-most UK diplomat in New Delhi to convey a strong protest.
First #Islamists tear down and burn a Hindu flag of a Mandir in Leicester, and today #Khalistan separatists have the audacity to bring down the #India flag at the High Commision in #London.
This has happened time and time again. When will the authorities act? #HindusUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/Of6ctdeSRk
— INSIGHT UK (@INSIGHTUK2) March 19, 2023
India not only demanded an explanation for the complete absence of British security that allowed the elements to enter the High Commission premises but also reminded the basic obligations of the UK Government under the Vienna Convention.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) termed the “indifference” of the UK Government to the security of Indian diplomatic premises and personnel in the UK as “unacceptable”. It also strongly conveyed that the UK Government was expected to take immediate steps to identify, arrest and prosecute each one of those involved in the incident, and put in place stringent measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
Amidst #Khalistanis protest, a massive Tiranga 🇮🇳, flies at the @HCI_London today
India’s honour shines bright and fills the diaspora’s heart with pride pic.twitter.com/e5H1WNCqV0
— 🇬🇧FISIUK 🇮🇳(Friends of India Soc Intl UK) (@FISI_UK) March 22, 2023
Alarmed with the rising number of anti-Hindu and anti-India acts of vandalism in UK, Canada and Australia, India has also demanded assurance from the respective governments and agencies that the Indian community’s places of worship are protected.
“What is important is action to be taken rather than assurances,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, last week.
India and the United Kingdom are also currently locked in Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, the seventh round of which was held in February and the next slated for later this month.
Advancing 🇮🇳-🇬🇧 Trade & Investment ties.
Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra met nine visiting British Parliamentarians from @AppgIndia today.
Discussions covered achievements & opportunities in multi-faceted India-UK partnership. pic.twitter.com/RZveScxkPe
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) April 10, 2023
New Delhi has also denied reports in a section of British media suggesting that the future FTA talks are stalled till London takes action against the Khalistani supporters.