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Violent clashes at Kashmir protest in UK, 2 arrested

Last updated on: September 05, 2019 00:38 IST

Two people remain in custody after being arrested during clashes as thousands of protesters led by British Pakistani groups descended upon the Indian high commission in London against the scrapping of special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

IMAGE: A broken window at the Indian High commission in London. Photograph: ANI/Twitter

The 'Kashmir Freedom March' began at Parliament Square on Tuesday and moved towards India House, with protesters waving anti-India placards and chanting slogans such as 'Azadi' and 'Stop Shelling in Kashmir'.

Scotland Yard said it had appropriate police presence to monitor the protest march.

"Two people were arrested for criminal damage and remain in custody," a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said.

 

The United Kingdom government described the protests as 'largely peaceful' and stressed that the safety of the Indian mission was not compromised.

"The protest outside the Indian High Commission in London yesterday was largely peaceful and the police ensured a safe perimeter. Two arrests were made," a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said.

"We take security of the Indian High Commission and all diplomatic missions extremely seriously and were in close contact with our colleagues at the High Commission throughout the day to ensure their safety and ability to work," the spokesperson said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan branded the clashes as unacceptable behaviour and called on the police to take action against the perpetrators.

"I utterly condemn this unacceptable behaviour and have raised this incident with the Met Police to take action," he said.

A UK Opposition Labour Party MP from Birmingham, Liam Byrne, has launched an online petition over the Kashmir issue and was among the politicians backing Tuesday's protests.

"Today thousands of people marched from Downing Street to the Indian High Commission to send a clear message to Modi – you cannot silence the people of Kashmir," he said.

The latest clashes follow a face-off between anti-India protesters led by British Pakistani and separatist groups and a group of Indian diaspora members celebrating Indian Independence Day outside the Indian mission in London on August 15.

Ironically, the Independence Day violence was also raised in the House of Commons by Indian-origin MP Shailesh Vara on the same day as the latest clashes, with Vara urging UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to condemn the acts.

"It is absolutely right that any violence is deplorable. It shouldn't be conducted in this country, or anywhere else for that matter, at any individual communities. What we now need to do is try and reduce those tensions but also, on a positive side, build up confidence building measures to allow proper dialogue between the communities in Kashmir and also between India and Pakistan," said Raab, who addressed a series of questions over Kashmir in the Commons on Tuesday and called for India-Pakistan dialogue.

"We want to see a reduction of tensions in Kashmir, respect for internationally recognised human rights and steps from all sides to rebuild confidence," he said.

The minister also called on the Indian government to ensure any allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir since the Indian government's revocation of Article 370 are 'thoroughly, promptly and transparently' investigated.

"The issue of human rights is not just a bilateral issue for India or Pakistan or a domestic issue, it is an international issue… we expect internationally recognised human rights to be complied with and respected," he said.

India has told the international countries that its decision on Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter.

Aditi Khanna
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