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London High Commission becomes a rallying point for Indians on Independence Day

Indian women at the Indian High Commission, London

London: Indians in the UK had their biggest-ever Independence Day celebrations at the High Commission in years with enthusiastic crowds and heightened security on Tuesday.

Adding to the festive atmosphere was the surprise, and the thrill, of watching High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami roar into the premises riding a bike with black-jacketed Indian riders.

A gigantic tricolour, that had been hung from the facade of the building earlier this year, was on display once again.

Pravin Patel, Vice President of the Sardar Patel Memorial Society UK, who had been attending the Independence Day celebrations told India Narrative that this was the first time he saw such large crowds and interactive participation by the staff of the High Commission.

A long queue that had built up outside the premises was greeted by High Commissioner Doraiswami, who came out of India House – the High Commission, and shook hands with all the individuals waiting outside the gates of the building.

The High Commissioner addressed the gathering by reading out President Droupadi Murmu’s speech. He addressed the gathering in both English and Hindi, drawing a big applause from hundreds of Indians. Doraiswami said: “What we celebrate on Independence Day is that we are part of a great democracy… we celebrate many identities… and all of us are equal in every aspect”.

Hundreds of Indians gathered at India House – the Indian High Commission on Strand in London

He also highlighted how the Indian government is focused on empowering women through economic policies, adding that, “one of the ideals of the freedom struggle was the development of women”.

A group of NCC cadets who have been touring the UK from early August were part of the celebrations. As was the blind cricket team that was feted as part of the celebrations. Nearly a dozen bikers also joined the event with a proposed bike rally of Indian youth to take place in the evening.

The Indian diaspora was present in its multi-hued diversity with not just the well-off NRIs but students, the Dawoodi Bohra community, Sikhs and many other British Indian communities present with families and children. Indian women were dressed in sarees in the tricolours of the Indian flag.

Chants of Bharat Mata ki Jai and Vande Matram rent the building along with patriotic music, songs and dances.

The Indian High Commission has been extending its outreach to the Indian diaspora with a variety of exhibitions, events and celebrations. The community too has responded by coming out in large numbers. Many members of the diaspora confided that the High Commission has indeed galvanised and strengthened bonds among the diverse and spread-out Indians.

A strong contingent of the Metropolitan Police had been deployed around the High Commission in view of threats by Khalistanis and recent attacks on the building, some of which can be evidenced in the cracked window panes of the building.