The UK will take the security of the Indian High Commission here “seriously", top British officials have said after Scotland Yard arrested one person in connection with “completely unacceptable" vandalism at the mission by Khalistan supporters. The tricolour flying atop the Indian High Commission was grabbed at by the protesters waving separatist Khalistani flags and chanting pro-Khalistani slogans on Sunday.
After the incident, police arrested one person related to the violent disorder.
Officials from the mission said the “attempted but failed" attack had been foiled and that the tricolour was now flying “grander", with a larger tricolour now adorning the India House façade.
The Metropolitan Police said two members of security staff sustained minor injuries, which did not require hospital treatment and an investigation has been launched after an arrest on suspicion of violent disorder.
When asked about additional security at the premises, the force said it will not “discuss matters of security”.
However, Foreign Office minister Lord Tariq Ahmad tweeted soon after the attack to say that he was “appalled” and that the British government would always take security at the mission seriously.
“This is a completely unacceptable action against the integrity of the Mission and its staff. The UK government will always take the security of the Indian High Commission seriously,” said Lord Ahmad.
Responding to the incident, London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan said he condemned “the violent disorder and vandalism that took place".
“There is no place in our city for this kind of behaviour," he tweeted.
The British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis described the incident as “disgraceful" and “totally unacceptable".
Scotland Yard said it was called to reports of disorder on Sunday afternoon and that a man was arrested as its enquiries continue.
“Windows were broken at the High Commission building,” the Metropolitan Police statement said.
“Officers attended the location. The majority of those present had dispersed prior to the arrival of police. An investigation was launched, and one male was arrested nearby a short time later on suspicion of violent disorder. Enquiries continue,” the statement said.
Diaspora groups also expressed their outrage at the incident, with several gurdwaras among those condemning the violence.
In a joint statement issued from across the UK, British Sikh community leaders said: “Everyone has the right for peaceful protest, but the use of violence or threats against Indian High Commission staff and forcefully trying to remove Tiranga (Tricolour), the national flag of India, is not acceptable and we condemn these actions.
“Such actions cannot achieve anything apart from damaging UK & India ties and our community cohesion.” Jaswinder Kumar, President of the Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha Bedford, and Gurmail Singh, vice-president of the Ramgarhia Sikh Society Bedford were among those to issue similar condemnations.
British Sikh House of Lords peer, Lord Rami Ranger, said the Sikh community is in “shock and disbelief” at how a handful of the misguided bunch can tarnish an illustrious and patriotic community.
“They have also shown total disrespect to Sikh Gurus who paid the supreme sacrifice for their Mother India,” he said.
The Indian National Students’ Association (INSA) UK also expressed deep concern and condemned the incident as an “attack on our sovereignty and dignity, as this act of violence puts our diplomats and staff in danger”.
“Distressing to see the High Commission of India (London) vandalised. The attempts to create division and tension here will not work. The British government should ensure that all diplomats, staff and missions are protected and secure," said the Labour Convention of Indian Organisations.
India, meanwhile, registered its strong protest with the British government over the safety of its diplomatic mission and questioned the lack of sufficient security at the premises.
Sunday’s incident came after similar radical actions by Kahlistani supporters in Canada and Australia.
Last week, the Honorary Consulate of India in Australia’s Brisbane city was forced to close down on Wednesday due to safety concerns after Khalistan supporters organised an unauthorised gathering and blocked the entry of the office, days after Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese assured India that his government will not tolerate “extreme actions." Several Hindu temples in Melbourne were vandalised by Khalistan supporters in recent months.
India has repeatedly raised the issue with Australian authorities.
India has asked the Australian government to curb the anti-India activities of the Khalistani separatists and also attacks on the Hindu temples in the country.
Australian Prime Minister Albanese during his India visit assured his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Australia won’t tolerate any extreme actions like attacks on religious places.
Canada has also seen a rise in anti-India activities recently by Khalistani supporters who have vandalised some Hindu temples.
Last September, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement condemning the rise of hate crimes against Indians and anti-India activities in Canada, expressing their concern with stern language.
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