Man arrested, police deployed after vandalism at Indian High Commission in London

‘Put up adequate security,’ says Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra to the U.K.

Updated - March 20, 2023 10:38 pm IST

Published - March 20, 2023 09:51 pm IST - LONDON/ NEW DELHI

India summoned the senior-most British diplomat in Delhi over reports of some Khalistani elements pulling down the Indian flag at the Indian high commission in London during a protest, official sources said. 

India summoned the senior-most British diplomat in Delhi over reports of some Khalistani elements pulling down the Indian flag at the Indian high commission in London during a protest, official sources said.  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

India, on Monday, lodged a strong protest with the United States over vandalism by pro-Khalistan elements targeting its consulate in San Francisco. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) summoned US Charge d’Affaires Elizabeth Jones and reminded the United States of its “basic obligation” to protect India’s diplomatic missions on its territory. In addition to vandalism at India’s diplomatic missions in San Francisco and London, there were reports that the Indian High Commissioner to Canada ,Sanjay Kumar Verma, had to cancel an event after sword-wielding individuals gathered at a venue demanding an end to police action against fugitive Amritpal Singh in Punjab. 

“In a meeting with the US Charge d’Affaires in New Delhi, India conveyed its strong protest at the vandalisation of the property of the Consulate General of India, San Francisco. The US Government was reminded of its basic obligation to protect and secure diplomatic representation. It was asked to take appropriate measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents,” the MEA announced. The Indian Embassy in Washington DC separately reached out to the US State Department with similar concerns, according to the MEA.

The incident in San Francisco came hours after a group of pro-Khalistan agitators on Sunday protested against police action on Amritpal Singh in Punjab and brought down the tricolour outside the Indian High Commission in London.

In London, a handful of yellow-jacketed police officers and a few police vans could be seen on Aldwych, home to the Indian High Commission, on Monday morning. The national flag had been reinstated the previous evening and a much larger tricolour — which was previously on display following Republic Day — was attached further up the building’s front facade.

In New Delhi, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said the British authorities were asked to increase security for the building. One man had been arrested according to the Metropolitan Police, who told The Hindu they were called around 13:50 hrs on Sunday.

“ An investigation was launched, and one male was arrested nearby a short time later on suspicion of violent disorder. Enquiries continue, “ they said. No injuries were reported, but windows were broken at the High Commission, according to the police.

An Indian diplomat said the individual was “ apparently released on bail” . The Hindu was unable to confirm this. Under U.K. law, individuals cannot be detained for more than 24 hours (barring certain exceptions), without being charged but they can be released pending further investigation.

“ We lodged a strong protest and also clearly indicated to the British authorities of the need for them to put up adequate security at the Indian High Commission,” Mr. Kwatra said on Monday, adding that the government had asked the U.K. authorities to arrest and prosecute the culprits.

India had summoned British Deputy High Commissioner Christina Scott on Sunday night over the incident.

The Congress also blamed the British government for the incident, saying the vandalism was “ totally unacceptable”. “The British government has failed in its most basic responsibility and must be held accountable,” the party’s communication head and MP Jairam Ramesh said.

Sikhs protest in Delhi

There were counter-protests in New Delhi on Monday with at least 500 Sikh protesters, including armed Nihangs, gathering outside the British High Commission in the city. This was in addition to a drive-by protest organised by members of the Sikh communities in Delhi. The British High Commission stayed locked from the inside during the protests.

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