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Burhan Wani rally in UK cancelled after India protest

British authorities have withdrawn permission for a rally in Birmingham that was to commemorate the death of militant commander Burhan Wani following a strong protest by the Indian government.

world Updated: Jul 05, 2017 18:36 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
India-UK relations,Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani,Burhan Wani rally in Birmingham
Burhan Wani, the wanted commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, who was killed by Indian security forces on July 8, 2016. (Courtesy Social Media)

The Birmingham City Council on Wednesday withdrewpermission to organisers of a rally to commemorate the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8 following a strong protest by the Indian government.

India had issued a “note verbale” to the Foreign Office on Monday, asking the UK to stop the event outside the Council House that was billed as a “Kashmir Rally”. Its posters and announcements carried a photo of Wani, who was killed by security forces on July 8, 2016.

A Birmingham Council spokesperson told Hindustan Times: “We took a booking for a peaceful rally highlighting the human rights abuse in Kashmir. However we are now aware of concerns raised about the promotional leaflet and, having assessed the material, have not given permission for the use of Victoria Square."

The withdrawal of permission is a significant development in India-UK relations, given the fact that on previous occasions, such events perceived as “anti-India” were allowed on the ground of freedom of expression and speech.

The note verbale was issued within days of high commissioner YK Sinha delivering an unusually strong speech at a book release event in London, when he said post-Brexit Britain’s eagerness to intensify trade with India cannot happen when New Delhi’s core concerns are ignored.

Sinha had said: “The way the UK permits anti-India activity on its soil, in Delhi people are quite perturbed about that. We are also a democratic society but we do not discuss issues that affect our friends and allies.

“Allowing anti-India elements to flourish here in the name of democracy will not do,” he said in the speech that caused ripples and raised eyebrows in diplomatic and political circles but waswelcomed in Indian quarters.

India conveyed to the UK in the note verbale that allowing an event to commemorate an individual considered a terrorist by India was not expected of the Theresa May government. Wani was photographed with anAK-47 rifle, seeking the dismemberment of India, it was pointed out.

The killing of Wani, an associate of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin (recently designated a global terrorist by the United States), triggered a prolonged phase of unrest in the Kashmir Valley.

First Published: Jul 05, 2017 18:34 IST