Protests, counter-protests planned for Modi's UK visit this week
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s packed itinerary includes a day of bilateral meetings with Theresa May, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. He will have a rare audience with Queen Elizabeth.world Updated: Apr 16, 2018 00:08 IST
A noisy face-off between pro and anti-India groups is on the cards near London’s Parliament Square on April 18, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds bilateral meetings and addresses a diaspora event at Central Hall Westminster.
Some Sikh groups have announced their plans to demonstrate, which is likely to be joined by pro-Pakistan groups. A demonstration has also been announced by the South Asia Solidarity Group, an anti-imperialist, anti-racist organisation based in Britain. The groups had staged a noisy demonstration outside Downing Street during Modi’s last visit to Britain in November 2015.
However, some members of the Indian community have said that this time, there will be a “strong counter-protest” by pro-India groups to welcome Modi.
Modi’s packed itinerary includes a day of bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May and others in the British government, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. He will have a rare audience with Queen Elizabeth, and meet Prince Charles at a tech event.
The bilateral agenda includes renewing a memorandum of understanding that lapsed in 2014 on the framework to return illegal Indians in the UK — British authorities claim that number is in the hundreds of thousands.
Since May has linked the return of illegal Indians to any improvement in visa conditions for Indians, the expectation is that updated MoU will put the ball in the British government’s court, which is keen to court India for a free trade agreement post Brexit.
Also on the cards is the launch of an Ayurvedic Centre of Excellence at the University of Westminster, for which an MoU will be signed between the All India Institute of Ayurveda and College of Medicine, an MoU between NASSCOM and Innovate UK, and another MoU between NITI Aayog and its counterpart in the UK in the area of innovation.