As the hunt for Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh in India intensifies, around 2,000 protesters waving Khalistan flags descended upon the Indian High Commission in London on Wednesday.
The protestors shouted slogans, threw water bottles and ink at London Police amid heightened security presence and barricades.
Unlike the violent disorder on Sunday when the Indian High Commission came under attack, the protesters on Wednesday 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.
The Indian High Commission in London has been working to counter disinformation circulating around developments in Punjab, related to enforcement action against the separatist group ‘Waris Punjab De’.
“Let me assure all our friends here in the UK, especially brothers and sisters with relatives in Punjab, that there is no truth to the sensationalist lies being circulated on social media,” Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami said in a video posted on Twitter.
“The situation in your ancestral homeland is not what is being reported. The elected chief minister of the state and the local police authorities have put out detailed information, including interviews on television, please watch these. Do not believe the small handful of people putting out fiction and disinformation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the British High Commission spokesperson declined to comment on the development, saying, “We do not comment on security matters”. Sources said that a high-level meeting was held in the Home Ministry with senior officials of NSA, MEA and Delhi Police to assess the situation on the ground.
Punjab Police on Saturday launched a major crackdown against Amritpal and members of his outfit ‘Waris Punjab De’. The elusive preacher, however, gave police the slip and escaped their dragnet when his cavalcade was intercepted in the Jalandhar district.
- According to reports, ink was thrown at several British police personnel during protests by pro-Khalistani groups at the Indian High Commission in London.
- The Indian High Commission countered by unfurling an additional humongous tricolour on the roof of its building, which seemed to rile the protesters.
- Several uniformed officers have been patrolling the area in Aldwych and Metropolitan Police vans have been stationed at the India High Commission.
- Banners for the so-called “National Protest”, organised by groups such as the Federation of Sikh Organisations (FSO) and Sikh Youth Jathebandia, have been circulating on social media since before a protest on Sunday, which ended in violent disorder at India House.
- The Indian government had registered a strong protest over the lack of security measures at its diplomatic mission, which ended in Khalistan flag-waving protesters smashing windows of the Indian High Commission and attempting to pull down the Tricolour.
- British Sikh MPs, Labour’s Tanmanjeet Singh and Preet Kaur Gill, were among those to express concern for their UK constituents with relatives in Punjab. “Monitoring developments surrounding Punjab. So many of my constituents are concerned for their loved ones given an internet blackout. Ministers should engage with Indian authorities so UK families who can’t reach their relatives regain contact as soon as possible,” Gill tweeted on Sunday.
- Several diaspora groups gathered for a “We Stand of India” festive demonstration outside India House in London on Tuesday as a show of solidarity following vandalism.
- The Metropolitan Police said its “enquiries continue” and one person arrested on suspicion of violent disorder has since been bailed to appear in court in mid-June.
(with inputs from Abhishek Jha and PTI)
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