• Sunday, June 23, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Britain concerned over disruption of Indian diplomat’s Sikh temple visit

Vikram Dorwaiswami was blocked from entering a gurdwara in Glasgow by pro-Khalistan extremists

Vikram Doraiswami, the high commissioner of India to the UK (ANI Photo)

By: Pramod Thomas

A British government minister expressed concern that a visit by a senior Indian diplomat to a Sikh temple in Glasgow had been disrupted by protesters the day before.

“The safety and security of foreign diplomats is of utmost importance and our places of worship in the UK must be open to all,” junior foreign office minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in a post on social media.

The Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Vikram Dorwaiswami, who was touring Scotland last week was blocked from entering a gurdwara in Glasgow by pro-Khalistan extremists.

In a statement issued on Saturday (30), the High Commission said that three people from outside Scotland “deliberately disrupted“ the visit on Friday (29) evening, and one even attempted to violently force open the diplomatic vehicle as senior diplomats arrived at Glasgow Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib on Albert Drive.

“On September 29, 2023, three persons — all from areas outside Scotland — disrupted a planned interaction organised by the Gurdwara committee for the community, the High Commissioner and the Consul General of India,” said the statement.

“This interaction was to discuss community and consular issues. The organisers included senior community leaders, ladies and committee members, and a member of (the) Scottish Parliament. They were threatened and abused by these elements. In an effort to prevent any potential altercation, the HC and CG decided to leave the premises shortly upon their arrival,” it said.

The statement added, “It is due to the quick reaction of one of the organisers, who physically intervened at the car door, that a bigger incident was avoided. The High Commission of India has reported this disgraceful incident to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Metropolitan Police.”

A spokesperson for Scotland’s police force said officers had been called to a report of a disturbance near the gurdwara, but there were no injuries. Enquiries were ongoing and no arrests had been made, police added.

“Glasgow Gurdwara strongly condemns such disorderly behaviour to disrupt the peaceful proceedings of a Sikh place of worship,” the religious body said in a statement to media.

“This is exactly how we should be greeting any Indian ambassador, anyone from the Indian government who comes in an official capacity under any excuse of doing visa applications or whatever it might be,” a Sikh man is heard saying in a video posted on social media by a group called Sikh Youth UK following the incident in Glasgow.

The incident happened towards the end of a two-day visit of the High Commissioner to Scotland, which involved a series of meetings and discussions with local political leaders, diaspora representatives, business chiefs and university groups.

During his meeting with Scotland’s first minister, Hamza Yousaf, the Indian envoy raised the issue of British Sikh Jagtar Singh Johal who is in custody on terrorism charges in India was also raised.

Long-standing tensions between some Sikhs and the Indian government have increased since Canada earlier this month linked the killing of a Sikh separatist advocate near Vancouver to Indian government agents – allegations which India has dismissed as “absurd”.

Canada and Britain are home to the largest populations of Sikhs outside India, after some Sikhs emigrated to flee violence in the 1970s and 1980s in the Indian state of Punjab that killed thousands.

India complained to Britain earlier this year after Sikh separatists detached the Indian flag from the country’s high commission in central London and called for better security.

(Agencies)

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