The foreign ministry summoned the seniormost diplomat of UK in New Delhi late this evening as the Indian flag was pulled down from the Indian High Commission in London by a section of Sikhs protesting against the police crackdown on Khalistani separatist Amritpal Singh. In a sharply worded statement, the ministry demanded an explanation for “absence of security” at the high commission premises and said the UK government’s “indifference” to Indian diplomats and personnel was “unacceptable”.
A section of Sikhs started protests over the crackdown since evening. Cellphone videos posted on social media showed protesters climbing the building and taking down the Indian flag. In Australia’s Brisbane, pro-Khalistan groups carried out what they called a referendum on Khalistan.
“An explanation was demanded for the complete absence of the British security that allowed these elements to enter the High Commission premises. She was reminded in this regard of the basic obligations of the UK Government under the Vienna Convention,” the foreign ministry said in its statement.
The ministry also said it finds “unacceptable” the “indifference of the UK Government to the security of Indian diplomatic premises and personnel”.
“It is expected that the UK Government would take immediate steps to identify, arrest and prosecute each one of those involved in today’s incident, and put in place stringent measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents,” the statement read.
British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis, meanwhile tweeted:
I condemn the disgraceful acts today against the people and premises of the @HCI_London – totally unacceptable.
— Alex Ellis (@AlexWEllis) March 19, 2023
Over the weekend, nearly 80 supporters of Amritpal Singh have been arrested. Amritpal Singh is on the run. The crackdown started after they broke into a police station with swords and guns to ensure release of one of them. Six police officers were injured in the clash.
Since then, 78 supporters of Amritpal Singh were arrested, many of them after a daring car chase. His close aide Daljeet Singh Kalsi, who handles his finances, was arrested this morning from Haryana’s Gurgaon.
The Punjab police tweeted details of the crackdown, saying 34 arrests were made today and the situation in the state is peaceful.
Day 2 on Mega crackdown on #AmritpalSingh backed Waris Punjab De wanted on criminal charges, made preventive arrests of persons attempting to disturb Law & Order in #Punjab (1/2) pic.twitter.com/CG37H0UE1K
— Punjab Police India (@PunjabPoliceInd) March 19, 2023
“Punjab Police is acting within the law. #AmritpalSingh is still absconding and not yet arrested. Don’t believe the rumours and false news. Request all citizens to maintain peace & harmony & not panic,” read another tweet.
Punjab police sources said Amritpal Singh has been maintaining close links with Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and terrorist groups based in foreign countries.