Sunday saw a massive demonstration in front of the Indian high commission in London with many raising Khalistani flags. Known Khalistanis, like Paramjeet Singh Pamma of Sikhs for Justice, a group that has been outlawed in India just last year and Kuldeep Singh Chaheru of Federation of Sikh organization (FSO), a well-known front of Babbar Khalsa were seen at the protest.
The Indian Mission was quick to reach out to the UK Foreign Office and Home Office, with London Metropolitan Police disposing of the crowds.
Vishwesh Negi, Minister (Political, Press & Information), Indian High Commission in London said, “As expected, it soon became clear that the gathering was led by anti-India separatists who had taken the opportunity of the farmers’ protests in India to pursue their own anti-India agenda.”
The Metropolitan Police ahead of the protest had warned that action will be taken if COVID-19 protocols are violated. Protestors, who wanted to demonstrate against India’s farm laws, could only hold a gathering of 30 people but the number crossed many times higher, leading to police action.
A total of 13 people were arrested for breach of COVID-19 regulations. Four of those people were subsequently de-arrested after they provided their details to officers and were issued a fine. Nine others remain in custody.
Commander Paul Brogden of the MET Police said, “If you attend a gathering that breaches the regulations, you may be committing an offence, which is punishable by a fine. In certain circumstances, if you hold a gathering of over 30 persons and you do not meet the requirements of the regulations, you might be committing a different offence, which is also punishable by a fine.”
The police pointed out that three teenagers who were seen setting off a firework towards a crowd were spoken to by police and fireworks were confiscated from them.
While this is the first such protest this year in front of the Indian Mission, last year saw two major protests in the aftermath of India removing special status for the erstwhile status of Jammu and Kashmir. That time, most of the protestors were from the Pakistani diaspora, many of whom tried to vandalize the Indian Mission by breaking a window pane. The matter was discussed at the highest level with Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising the matter with UK PM Boris Johnson, who assured that the incident will not be repeated.