British Indians spread message of unity on Diwali

A woman holds a flag of Azad Kashmir at a protest in solidarity with the people of Kashmir. (Photo: REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich)
A woman holds a flag of Azad Kashmir at a protest in solidarity with the people of Kashmir. (Photo: REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich)

MORE than 100 British Indian organisations on Sunday (27) condemned the anti-India demonstration by pro-Pakistani groups, and sent a van through the streets of London with a message to promote peace and social cohesion.

Pro-Pakistani groups on Sunday held anti-India protests over Kashmir, and the demonstrations coincided it with Diwali celebrations.

In response, a group of British Indians sent out a van with a Diwali message on a mobile LED billboard.

In their message to the media, the group said: “We are a group of concerned British Indians who wish to spread the inclusive and universal message of Diwali which embodies cohesion, peace, and love among communities.

“This is particularly relevant today as many Pro-Pakistan groups will be using this day of peace, cohesion, and love to divide the British Asian community into religious lines by carrying out a protest on Diwali day. This choice of date for protests has upset many British Indians as it’s equivalent to an anti-Semitic protest on Hannukah or Yom Kippur.”

They also said that the protest occurring “on the same day as Diwali is an act of Hinduphobia and racism”.

Refuting claims that the protest was aimed at Hindus, Tahseen Gilani, UK President of JKLF, a leading pro-independence organisation in Jammu and Kashmir, was quoted as saying: “It’s not against any religious practice and by the way, 8 million people had been stopped to offer Eid prayers in August this year was it justifiable. Indian High Commission is not religious, so the protest is not against Hindus. It’s against the innocent killings in Kashmir.”

The police had imposed conditions upon anti-India marches and rallies in London on the Kashmir issue on Diwali.

DAC Matt Twist, the Gold Commander in charge of the policing operation, said pre-event conditions on the Free Kashmir protest have been imposed under Sections 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act.

London mayor Sadiq Khan had condemned plans to hold an anti-India march, saying it would deepen divisions in the UK capital.

In response to a letter by London Assembly member Navin Shah, Mayor Khan said: “I absolutely condemn the plans for a protest march to take place on the auspicious day of Diwali, in the vicinity of the Indian High Commission in London.

“This march will only deepen divisions at a time when Londoners need to come together. That is why I am calling on those organising the march and all those considering taking part in it to think again and cancel their plans.”