LONDON, 23 Mar: The UK will review the security at the Indian high commission here following “unacceptable” acts of violence by pro-Khalistan protesters, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said, asserting that the government takes these matters “very seriously” and would “robustly” respond to such incidents.
Around 2,000 protesters waving Khalistan flags descended upon the Indian mission here on Wednesday for a planned demonstration, and hurled objects and chanted slogans amid heightened security presence and barricades.
Unlike the violent disorder on Sunday, when the India House came under attack, the protesters were barricaded across the road with uniformed officers standing guard and patrolling the area throughout.
The protesters, including turbaned men, and some women and children, had been bused in from different parts of the UK and chanted pro-Khalistan slogans.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Cleverly said the British government takes such matters very seriously and would “robustly” respond to the attack as it works with the metropolitan police to make changes needed to ensure the security of the mission’s staff.
As a sign of the action already taken, the minister cited the heightened security measures in place at India House for a planned demonstration on Wednesday, which included several police officers standing guard outside the building, as well as many mounted officers on horseback patrolling the area along with helicopter surveillance.
“Acts of violence towards staff at the Indian high commission in London are unacceptable and I have made our position clear to the High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami,” Cleverly said.
He said the police investigation is ongoing and the government is in close contact with the Indian high commission in London and the Indian government in New Delhi. “We are working with the metropolitan police to review security at the Indian high commission, and will make the changes needed to ensure the safety of its staff as we did for today’s demonstration,” he said.
“We will always take the security of the high commission, and all foreign missions in the UK, extremely seriously, and prevent and robustly respond to incidents such as this,” he noted.
The statement follows the Indian government’s strong protest over the lack of adequate security measures at its mission in London.
An evident metropolitan police presence has been visible around the Indian high commission in Aldwych since the violent disorder on Sunday when Khalistan flag-waving extremists smashed windows at the mission and attempted to pull down the tricolour from the flagpole.
During Wednesday’s planned demonstration by similar groups chanting anti-India slogans, the protesters were confined to a barricaded area opposite the building. Additional officers were deployed as scenes of charged-up protesters hurling flares and water bottles towards India House unfolded briefly.
The Indian high commission responded to the protest by unfurling a giant national flag to add to several tricolours pinned to its windows and a large national flag unfurled on the facade of the building.
Meanwhile, High Commissioner Doraiswami took to Twitter to counter disinformation circulating around developments in Punjab related to enforcement action against the separatist group ‘Waris Punjab De’.
He assured British Punjabis that there is no truth to the “sensationalist lies” circulated on social media.
In New Delhi, police removed barricades “that created hurdles” for commuters outside the British high commission. However, the security of the diplomatic mission remained intact, officials said on Wednesday. (PTI)