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Friday Aug 14 2020
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Indian groups write to UK PM seeking ban on protests outside New Delhi High Commission

Indian groups have written to the PM after New Delhi's High Commission in the UK became the centre of protests a year ago attended by thousands of people — including Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, and others — in the wake of India revoking Article 375 and, later, over the citizenship issue. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/Files

LONDON: British-Indian organisations and councillors have penned letters to the British government asking them to stop protesters from gathering outside the Indian High Commission, a day ahead of a major demonstration planned by Sikhs and Kashmiris for August 15 or "Black Day".

The letter to PM Boris Johnson has been signed by 102 Indian organisations aligned with Indian High Commission and Hindutva groups, while another has been sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel by over two dozen Indian origin councillors.

The letter to Patel, signed on the letterhead of ‘Indian Diaspora UK’, says: “We are approaching you in advance to request you to take appropriate measures and avoid violent protests outside the Indian High Commission building on that day. Last year the staff, family members and guests at the High Commission experienced unacceptable levels of violence, aggression and hostility during the celebrations outside.”

"This pattern is observed more of late and every year the violence has been going a step further. We would like to bring to your attention the violent attacks by sharp weapons on police personnel too apart from Indians gathered to celebrate last year (2019)," it adds.

The groups have written to the British PM after New Delhi's High Commission in the UK became the centre of protests a year ago in the wake of India revoking Article 375 and, later, over the Citizenship Amendment Act. These demonstrations were attended by tens of thousands of people, including Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, and others.

The groups, aligned with India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have claimed that Khalistani protesters used weapons. Police, however, have said there has neither been any recovery or evidence of weapons nor attacks on protesters by Sikhs and Kashmiris.

Violent scenes had broken out last year after a pro-BJP demonstration hurled stones at peaceful Sikh and Kashmir protesters outside the Indian High Commission. The Scotland Yard had made a few arrests but did not charge anyone as no evidence of violence from Khalistanis or Kashmiris was found.

The pro-BJP groups aligned with the Indian High Commission have since campaigned for a ban on protests outside the building but police have allowed protest space to rights activists.

Copies of the letters were also sent to the London Mayor and Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner.