Kashmir protests in London end peacefully amid heavy security
The people, protesting against India’s move in Kashmir, and subjected to time and route restrictions, gathered outside Downing Street, passed through Whitehall and ended up in nearby Trafalgar Square. The protest was prohibited from reaching anywhere near the Indian high commission in Aldwych.Updated: Oct 29, 2019 13:42 IST
A tight security cordon across central London following intense pressure from New Delhi and the Indian community ensured that the third major protest in London against recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir passed off without violence on Sunday.
The protest, which was subject to restrictions of time and route, gathered around 1 pm outside Downing Street, passed through Whitehall and ended in nearby Trafalgar Square. It was prohibited from reaching anywhere near the Indian high commission in Aldwych.
Belying claims of over 40,000 people from across the UK planning to attend the event, the day saw less than 5,000 protestors who carried placards against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They responded to slogans with progressively lower decibel levels.
A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: “The Free Kashmir protests in the Whitehall and Trafalgar Square areas concluded on Sunday, 27 October at approximately 16:50hrs. No arrests were made and all roads in the area have been reopened”.
The security cordon outside the Indian high commission was a major change from that in place on August 15 and September 3, when the police were unable to prevent assault and violence. The incidents blew into a diplomatic row between New Delhi and London.
The enhanced security on Sunday reflected a significant moment in the history of diaspora politics of the 1.5 million-strong Indian community in the UK. The earlier two incidents of violence brought together large sections of the community, which lobbied hard with UK authorities.
The disapora here is as diverse with similar range of opinions as in India, but no other issue - including the sensitive issue of caste legislation - had prompted such coordination and lobbying by a large number of community groups and leaders previously.
Compulsions of electoral politics – a mid-term general election is expected in the near future – also played a part with London mayor Sadiq Khan (Labour) and home secretary Priti Patel (Conservative) exerting to ensure a violence-free event on Sunday.
Nazir Ahmed, the Pakistan-origin member of the House of Lords and a leading light in anti-India demonstrations, flayed Khan’s role in the days before Sunday’s protest: “Shame on Sadiq Khan for writing to Priti Patel to impose restrictions,” he said.
The protest included individuals from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. A memorandum was submitted to Downing Street before the gathering proceeded along Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, where it dissipated after concluding speeches and slogans.