UK soon to feel Modi govt heat over ‘Tricolour’ incident

By, New Delhi
Mar 20, 2023 10:14 AM IST

Despite the Modi government informing the Whitehall and MI-5 about the planned Sikh extremists protests earlier this month, the indifference of the British government to pulling down the Indian national flag has riled the highest levels in New Delhi and there will be repercussions.

The pulling down of the national flag atop the Indian High Commission by Khalistan separatists on Sunday and the “indifference” of the British system towards the security of the diplomatic premises has been viewed as “action forcing event” by the Modi government and will have repercussions far beyond the diplomatic protest lodged by New Delhi.

Khalistan Sikh radicals outside the Indian High Commission in London on Sunday.
Khalistan Sikh radicals outside the Indian High Commission in London on Sunday.

While the Modi government wants the British Government to act at the very minimum against the perpetrators, there are serious discussions at the highest levels of the government on how to make the UK government more responsive and accountable to Indian security concerns in Britain.

The man behind the Sunday protest has been identified as UK-based asylum seeker Avtar Singh Khanda, whose father Kulwant Singh Khukrana was a terrorist of the Khalistan Liberation Force and is supplying funds through Gurmit Singh Bukanwala. It was Khanda who got the radical Sikh students in the UK organised for the Sunday protest.

Also Read: Anger over Khalistan supporters pulling down Tricolour at mission in London

Despite the Modi government pointing out the soft attitude of the British system including intelligence towards anti-India Khalistan separatists since the orchestrated anti-CAA-Kashmir protests outside Indian HC in 2019, the UK government has hardly responded in a firm way and is in many ways seen promoting disaffection towards India and the Narendra Modi government in particular. This comes after the British government-funded BBC regurgitated a document targeting PM Modi over the 2002 Gujarat riots despite the Supreme Court giving a clean chit to the former Gujarat CM.

While the Modi government is quiet over what action will be taken after the latest aggravation, the government read the riot act to the British diplomat summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs late last evening. A similar strong protest will be lodged by the Indian HC in London today with a blunt message to denizens of White Hall. What is galling to the Modi government is the lack of security to the Indian Embassy and its staff despite the threat from the miniscule Sikh extremists based in the UK.

Also Read: Indian mission responds to Khalistani elements with ‘grander’ Tricolour

The Modi government is also watching how the Rishi Sunak government responds to another anti-India protest planned by a proscribed “Sikhs For Justice” group in the UK on March 22. Led by designated extremist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, the SFJ has been allowed to thrive, collect funds outside UK Gurudwaras and accumulate property despite pin-pointed evidence by the Indian intelligence to their British counterparts.

The fact is that the Modi government had alerted the British system including MI-5 to the planned Sikh extremist protest on Sunday and the leader behind the show who got Sikh students outside the Indian Embassy with the lure of a political asylum and some monetary benefits. It seems that the British system, not the current political leadership, is empathetic to the Sikh separatist groups and is totally indifferent to Indian security interests.

While the British High Commission in India and its diplomats are given full security and protection by the Modi government, the same reciprocity is found wanting to the point of indifference by the UK government. Given the state of anger within the Modi government over the “Tricolor” incident on Sunday, the British government will soon realize that India means business and will do all to protect its national security interests.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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