New Delhi summons British diplomat over flag vandalism in London

LONDON 21 Mar (Online): The Indian government summoned the United Kingdom’s senior-most diplomat to protest the taking down of its national flag at the Indian High Commission (HC) in London by pro-Khalistan demonstrators.

In a video shared on social media platforms, a Sikh protestor can be seen mounting the building in London before managing to pull down the Indian flag while his fellow demonstrators cheer him on. He then proceeds to wave the Khalistani flag as an official attempts to stop him from inside the HC building.

The move was in response to “massive cordon and search operations” across Punjab to nab pro-Khalistan leader Amritpal Singh where internet and mobile services are suspended in the Indian state of Punjab, reported journalist Shehzad Hameed Ahmad.

Responding to the incident, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) lodged a “strong protest at the actions taken by separatist and extremist elements”.

“An explanation was demanded for the complete absence of British security that allowed these elements to enter the HC premises,” a statement issued by the Indian foreign office stated, adding that “India finds unacceptable the indifference of the UK government to the security of Indian diplomatic premises and personnel in the UK”.

“It is expected that the UK government would take immediate steps to identify, arrest and prosecute each one of those involved”, it furthered demanding that the concerned authorities “put in place stringent measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents”.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has condemned the incident of “violent disorder and vandalism” saying “there is no place in our city for this kind of behaviour”

He also said that an investigation has been launched to probe into the matter. has also reported that Scotland Yard said that one man was arrested in connection with the pulling down of the Indian flag. It, however, said that most of those present had dispersed from the building before the police arrived.

The Metropolitan Police said that two security guards were injured and an investigation has been launched. “Windows were broken at the High Commission building,” the police added.

Meanwhile in India, over the weekend, 112 supporters of Singh have been arrested as part of statewide cordon-and-search operations against Waris Punjab De (heirs of Punjab). Security forces are also attempting to take Singh into custody.

As the police continue searching for Amritpal Singh, Punjab Police on Monday said that his uncle and driver have surrendered before the authorities in Jalandhar.

On the other hand, in a late-night interview via phone call to the Indian Express, Amritpal’s uncle refuted the police’s claims and maintained that Amritpal had already been arrested. “We are not absconders,” he had said.

Similarly, the legal advisor to the organisation Waris Punjab De (heirs of Punjab) claims that he has been arrested at the Shahkot police station in Jalandhar, ANI reported.

The lawyer, Imaan Singh Khara, said that he has filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court demanding that the police should produce Amritpal Singh before court. He also claimed that there is a threat to his client’s life.

The Indian news agency, Asian News International (ANI) reported that amid the ongoing crackdown against the ‘Waris Punjab De’ (hiers of Punjab) chief Amritpal Singh, the suspension of mobile, internet, SMS and dongle services has been extended until Tuesday noon.

The provincial government has stated that “certain sections of society are holding protests at several places in the State and are likely to threaten public order by incitement to violence” and they are known to widely use social media platforms for mobilising “anti-national activities”.

Notably, the suspension of internet and mobile services was brought in place on Saturday and was extended on Sunday.