LONDON: Two groups of protestors clashed outside the Indian High Commission as Kashmiris and Sikhs jointly protested against the actions of the Indian government.
Sikhs and Kashmiris traditionally demonstrate on India’s Republic Day outside the Indian High Commission in London to declare their desire for freedom from Indian occupation.
However, it was the first time that Indian officials organised a counter-protest which turned violent, as pro-Indian protestors attacked Sikhs and Kashmiris.
Scotland Yard officials had to call for backup as they tried to separate the protestors from the pro-India protestors, who had resorted to issuing threats and also threw a few water bottles at the protestors.
The Indian protestors were carrying placards accusing the Sikhs and Kashmiris of being terrorists, shouting “Modi, Modi,” and howling abuse at their opponents. But they had to eventually retreat once it was clear that they were getting a more than robust response from a spirited gathering of Sikh and Kashmiri self-determination supporters.
India has been incensed at its diplomats being recently banned from speaking at many Sikh Gurdwaras in the UK, Canada, and the USA.
Officers of the Indian High Commission in London were also visibly stung seeing vans parked outside their office proclaiming “Khalistan Zindabad”, “Free Kashmir” and calling for freedom in Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur.
Following complaints from the Indian lobby last week, Transport for London issued a circular to stop advertisement agencies from displaying the messages on public transport.
Lord Nazir Ahmed led the protestors and condemned the ‘extremist Hindutva’ elements that had sought to prevent peaceful democratic protest. Speaker after speaker said their communities would never be intimidated by such cowardly tactics.
President of the Council of Khalistan Amrik Singh Sahota, OBE, said the international community – including the Commonwealth – should hold Modi to account for not only his personal but also his country’s diabolic record on human rights.
“As a country that formally rejects the right of self-determination (enshrined in international law as Article 1 of the 1966 Covenants on Human Rights), the role of responsible international bodies was to punish, not, reward India,” he said, adding that the conflicts arising from that illegal position had led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and untold misery.
Dr Mukul Hazarika of Assam Watch (UK) said India must “return the sovereign status of the shackled deserving nations viz the Kashmiris, Khalistanis and the nationalities of Western South East Asia”.
Lord Qurban Hussain, who was also participating in the protest, spoke of the need for the UN to intervene and bring peace to what is perhaps the most dangerous conflict zone in the world today.