Another Kashmir protest in London on Diwali day
The day-long protest march is scheduled to begin from Downing Street and conclude outside the Indian high commission, which was the scene of violence on August 15 and September 3.Updated: Oct 19, 2019 18:05 IST
London mayor Sadiq Khan has called on organisers of another Kashmir-related protest on October 27 to cancel it in view of concerns of the Indian community and violence at similar events since August 15, which led to a diplomatic row between New Delhi and London.
The day-long protest march is scheduled to begin from Downing Street and conclude outside the Indian high commission, which was the scene of violence on August 15 and September 3. Anticipating nearly 10,000 people, Scotland Yard has a ‘robust’ policing plan in place.
Khan and his Labour party have been at the receiving end of ennui from large sections of the Indian community over the violence as well as for adopting an emergency resolution on Kashmir at the party’s annual conference that was rejected by New Delhi as ‘unfounded’.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Friday reiterated the party’s ‘grave concern’ over what he called ‘ongoing human rights crisis’ in Kashmir.
Insisting that as the mayor he has no power to ban such protests, Khan wrote to Navin Shah, member of the London Assembly, to “absolutely condemn” the protest plan “on the auspicious day of Diwali,” and called on organisers to think again and cancel it.
Khan wrote: “This march will only deepen divisions at a time when Londoners need to come together…I understand why many British Indians are so deeply concerned. Many have felt deeply threatened and worried since the previous protests”.
“As mayor, I will continue to do all I can to extend the hand of friendship to Londoners of Indian origin – who continue to make such an incredible contribution to our city. I want to ensure they always feel respected, valued and made to feel safe in London, and that London remains a welcoming place to people from India and around the world”, he added.
The mayor’s office, Khan said, is working with the police to prevent a repeat of the violence witnessed during previous protests outside India House. Scotland Yard, he added, is also working closely with the Indian high commission on this issue.
Reports say British Kashmiris and others from various parts of the country have been invited to attend the protest march and travel to London on coaches arranged by the organisers.
Violence outside India House on August 15 was raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who expressed regret. Indian high commission Ruchi Ghanashyam publicly joined a clean-up operation after the September 3 violence.
Meanwhile, Corbyn reiterated his party’s human rights-focussed view of Kashmir in a response to last week’s letter by over 100 Indian community organisations, expressing dismay over the emergency resolution adopted at the conference.
He wrote: “The Labour party is an internationalist party, and is committed to ensuring the human rights of all citizens of Kashmir are respected and upheld. That remains our priority and I agree that we should not allow the politics of the sub-continent to divide communities here in Britain”.
“The Labour party is gravely concerned at the ongoing human rights crisis in Kashmir, as well as the media and communications lockdown imposed on the region”.
“There is an urgent need for India and Pakistan to work together on a bilateral basis, with the support of the international community, to reach a peaceful political solution with protects the human rights of the Kashmiri people and respects their rights to have a say in their own future”, Corbyn added.