Anti-India protest in London fails to live up to the hype
A tight cordon of security by Scotland Yard around the Indian high commission prevented recurrence of violence on Sunday as demonstrators raised anti-India slogans and separatist demands related to ‘Khalistan’ and Kashmir.
India’s diplomatic pressure described as ‘relentless’ ensured that British authorities took adequate measures, including mounted police and cameras to record and identify protestors. Unlike the hype before Sunday, the protest attracted less than 1,000 people.
The mission had been the target of violence on August 15 and September 3 last year, which spiralled into a diplomatic row between New Delhi and London. British authorities could not allow third countries to “play their games” in the UK, they were told.
Stringent measures were in place during subsequent protests, including one on Diwali, when protestors were not allowed near India House. Sunday’s protest was preceded by a series of engagements by diplomats with home secretary Priti Patel, among others.
Groups involved in the Sunday protest included Tehreek-e-Kashmir UK and the Kashmir Solidarity Movement, besides Sikh separatist outfits. The protestors were confined to the road opposite the mission, with all access points effectively blocked by the police.
“It seems some delay in giving police permission to the protest ensured that not many turned up, while fatigue is also setting in, as things have moved on in Jammu and Kashmir since Article 370 was revoked”, a senior community leader insisting on anonymity said.
Protests were also held on Saturday on the eve of the Republic Day against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), when students, activists and others gathered opposite Downing Street.
The organisers included the South Asia Solidarity Group, CasteWatch UK, SOAS India Society, Tamil People in the UK, Indian Workers Association (GB), Indian Muslim Federation (UK), Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organisations, Kashmir Solidarity Movement, South Asian Students Against Fascism, Newham Muslim Alliance; Ghadar International.