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Singing 'Jai Ho' and 'Rang De Basanti', Indians throng high commission in solidarity

March 21, 2023 19:26 IST

Several Indian diaspora groups on Tuesday gathered for a festive demonstration outside the India House in London to show solidarity with the Indian mission following the vandalism at its premises by Khalistan extremists over the weekend.

IMAGE: The Indian diaspora gathers at the high commission to show solidarity, London, March 21, 2023. Photograph: ANI on Twitter

Indian flags could be seen waved about as around 200 people of Indian origin chanted slogans such as "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and danced to popular Indian tunes ’Jai Ho' and ’Rang De Basanti' at the "We Stand By High Commission of India" demonstration.

The colours of the Tiranga and ’I love my India’ tunes formed the backdrop as men, women and children joined in a spirit of festivity, as bemused Metropolitan Police officers looked on and tried to curtail some of the over-enthusiastic crowd from spilling over into the busy traffic.

"This is a crowd gathered in support of India, chanting patriotic slogans and songs and the public is in a festive mood because they have come out in support of the high commission of India," said Kuldeep Shekhawat, president of the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), among the diaspora groups represented.


"It's very unfortunate that a few days ago Khalistanis under the guise of a peaceful protest came here and tried to desecrate the flag," said Rashmi Samant, an Indian student activist at the demonstration.

"We have since come out with a bigger flag showing the Bharatiya spirit, that we won't take insults lying down and we will fight back. One person has been arrested but we need more arrests and more concrete actions, such as permanent security presence at our high commission to prevent such incidents from happening,” she said.

Earlier, Indian high commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami hosted a diaspora briefing at India House on Monday evening and addressed the concerns of the community leaders following the attack that resulted in broken windows.

An attempted pulldown by the extremists of the Indian tricolour that flies at the Indian high commission was intercepted by an official and has been followed up by an additional larger Tiranga on the main facade.

"Appreciated their solidarity following the attack on the high commission on Sunday,” the Indian high commission in London tweeted following the diaspora briefing.

The Metropolitan Police said its "enquiries continue" and one person arrested on suspicion of violent disorder has since been bailed to appear in court in mid-June.

Friends of India Society International (FISI) UK, one of the organisations behind Tuesday's solidarity meet, said the Indian diaspora is deeply shocked by the ”disgraceful and abominable act” of desecration of the Indian flag by extremist forces.

"We are equally shocked to see the failure of the UK government to take preventive measures to prohibit such shameful incidents that endanger the Indian diplomatic officials,” said the FISI UK.

”In this particular incident, an Indian high commission official braved the hooligans and restored the pride of India by taking the flag away from them. The Indian official had to act due to lack of appropriate security present at the premises,” it said.

The National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK was among several groups to voice their condemnation of the vandalism.

”We call for swift and firm action being taken to bring the perpetrators of this hooliganism to justice. Measures should be urgently put in place to prevent the recurrence of such incidents,” it said.

The Indian government has lodged a strong protest and called on the British authorities to ensure adequate security at the Indian high commission, which has seen a very visible Metropolitan Police presence in the wake of the attack.

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has declined to comment on the matter except pointing to the tweet of Foreign Office Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad, who had said the ”UK government will always take the security of the Indian high commission seriously”.

In the wake of the violent disorder by Khalistan flag-waving protesters on Sunday, there is a planned protest organised by groups such as the Federation of Sikh Organisations (FSO) and Sikh Youth Jathebandia outside the Indian mission in London on Wednesday. The Metropolitan Police has indicated that it is aware of the planned demonstration and security measures are expected to be in place.

Aditi Khanna in London
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