‘Not interested in assurances’: India messages UK after FIR over London protest
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said New Delhi expects host governments to take action to identify and prosecute all those involved and take all necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents
NEW DELHI: The Delhi Police have registered a case under several penal provisions, including India’s anti-terror law, against people involved in a violent protest by pro-Khalistan groups outside the Indian high commission in London during which an activist pulled down the national flag.
The case was registered by the city police’s special cell, which investigates terrorist activities, a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity on Friday. The first information report (FIR) was registered on the directions of the Union home ministry, which asked police to take legal action on the basis of a report received from the external affairs ministry about the protest on March 19.
The FIR invoked provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
People familiar with the matter said the action was taken after authorities in London identified some Indian nationals allegedly involved in the protest. In this context, authorities invoked provisions of UAPA related to action on foreign soil that threaten the security and sovereignty of India and that damage or destroy property in a foreign country used for any purposes of the Indian government or its agencies, the people said.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a regular media briefing that an “incident report” on Sunday’s protest outside the Indian high commission in London had been shared with relevant agencies. “Now it is up to the law enforcement agencies to do what they feel they can do about it,” he said.
Asked about UK foreign minister James Cleverly’s comments about steps being taken to ensure the security of the Indian mission, Bagchi said: “We are not interested in just assurances, I think we would like to see action.”
The Indian side has raised concerns related to the security of missions with authorities in Australia, Canada and the UK over the past few weeks. Bagchi said the vandalisation of the Indian mission in London and the consulate in San Francisco had been strongly taken up with the UK and the US.
“We expect host governments will take action to identify and prosecute all those involved and take all necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. We would hope host governments provide full and adequate protection to our missions as well as to the personnel working there,” he said.
Besides lodging strong diplomatic protests, the Indian side reduced security around the British high commission and the envoy’s official residence in Delhi this week.
Bagchi declined to comment on the cancellation of an event in Canada’s British Columbia province, which was to be attended by the Indian envoy, because of a violent protest by pro-Khalistan activists on Sunday. “It is our expectation that in any country, our diplomats can perform their legitimate and normal diplomatic duties and functions and that the host government will ensure a conducive environment for doing so,” he said.
The protest in London on March 19 began hours after Punjab Police launched a statewide manhunt against pro-Khalistani separatist preacher Amritpal Singh and his followers, arresting nearly 100 people after suspending mobile internet and text messaging services across the state. Singh, who was accused in eight FIRs of abduction, inciting violence and disturbing social harmony, is linked to the Khalistani secessionist movement and is chief of Waris Punjab De.
The people cited above have said recent protests by pro-Khalistan elements in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US appeared to be coordinated. These were accompanied by posts on social media in these countries making unsubstantiated claims about a crackdown in Punjab and the oppression of Sikhs.
Bagchi also referred to remarks by foreign parliamentarians and leaders on the situation in Punjab and said authorities in the state are conducting an operation to nab a fugitive. “Information regarding that operation is being shared by authorities in Punjab regularly. We would urge people abroad not to be taken in by inaccurate and motivated narratives that are being circulated by some elements on social media,” he added.
A Delhi Police officer said the special cell is gathering information about people linked to Amritpal Singh. “Last week, one Daljit Singh Kalsi was arrested in Gurugram on the instructions of NIA. This close aide of Singh left his residence in the Punjabi Bagh area in 2016. He got ₹35 crore from abroad in the last two years and his phone records show he made multiple calls to Pakistan,” the second officer alleged. Kalsi, considered to be Singh’s fundraiser, is among seven people taken into custody and shifted to Assam’s Dibrugarh over the past week.