Want actions, not assurances on safety of missions: India to U.S., U.K.

The MEA spokesperson would not comment on the removal of external security measures from British diplomatic addresses in Delhi, nor on why the U.S. Embassy did not face similar treatment.

Published - March 25, 2023 12:04 am IST - NEW DELHI

Arindam Bagchi.

Arindam Bagchi. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

India does not want “assurances”, but expects “actions” by host countries to prevent attacks on its diplomatic missions, a senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday.

Responding to questions during the weekly press briefing, official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi refused to elaborate on the removal of external security measures from the British High Commission and the residence of the High Commissioner of the U.K. in Delhi, arguing that security issues for foreign missions in India are not handled by the MEA.

“We have strongly taken up the matter of vandalisation and attacks on our missions in San Francisco and London. We expect host governments will take action and identify all those involved and also take necessary measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents,” Mr. Bagchi said. When asked specifically if India has received any assurance from the U.K. and the U.K. about prevention of such attacks, he responded by saying, “We are not interested in just assurances. We want to see actions.”


Friday’s statement from the MEA came a day after the U.K.’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly termed violence against the Indian High Commission by pro-Khalistan protestors in London as “unacceptable” and gave assurances that changes would be introduced in the security of the mission and its staff.

The protests were triggered by last weekend’s Punjab police action against pro-Khalistan preacher Amritpal Singh, who was described by the MEA as a “fugitive”. In response to the developments in Punjab, dozens of individuals protested outside the Indian mission in London. Apart from breaking some of the glass exterior of the mission, one of the protesters managed to bring down the national tricolour and attempted to replace it with a religious flag.

Subsequently, a crowd attacked India’s mission in San Francisco and high-tension moments were also witnessed in Canada, where the Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma had to cancel an engagement after sword-wielding protesters threatened a gathering. The MEA summoned the senior-most diplomat of the U.K. High Commission and the Charge d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy Elizabeth Jones, protesting against the incidents.

Security removed

Against this backdrop, the removal of the barricades and external security measures outside the U.K. High Commission and the residence of the High Commissioner Alex Ellis at 2, Rajaji Marg on Tuesday gain significance. Interestingly, only the British diplomatic addresses in Delhi were subjected to this measure, while the authorities here have not taken any similar measures against the U.S. Embassy.

When asked about the reason behind such a differentiated approach towards the missions of the U.K. and the U.S., Mr. Bagchi said, “We cannot comment pertaining to the security of foreign missions in India. So, I am not going to get into individual discussions. Each security situation is assessed on its own merits.”

Mr. Bagchi said that police action was continuing against Mr. Singh in Punjab and urged the relevant foreign governments to ensure safety for Indian missions and staff.

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