The UK High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, voices strong disapproval over damage to Indian High Commission in London, stating it as unacceptable and stressing the importance of mutual respect for diplomatic missions.
“I completely understand the anger here about what happened… that was a completely unforewarned small group of people doing some damage to the High Commission. I would have been equally angry if it would have happened to our high commission,” he said addressing an event organised by the Ananta Centre in New Delhi.
Ellis was referring to the vandalism that occurred at the Indian High Commission in London in March this year. The incident involved pro-Khalistan groups who not only tore down the Indian national flag but also caused damage to the mission.
Ellis emphasised that while India and the UK were capable of handling disagreements, there was no room for any disagreement when it came to Khalistani extremism. He underscored the gravity of the situation and the need for mutual respect and cooperation between the two countries in addressing such acts of vandalism.
He said, “In case of extremism, in specific Khalistani extremism, I think there is no disagreement. What happened at the Indian High Commission was absolutely not okay. It is a symptom of an issue which is Khalistani extremism”.
“We look at extremism not in relationship with a particular group of people, but overall extremism is a risk in any country. It certainly is a risk in mine,” he added.
The High Commissioner highlighted the UK government’s preparedness in addressing disinformation and radicalisation at religious institutions, referring to it as a valuable “toolkit.”
However, he emphasised the importance of maintaining focus on strengthening the strategic relationship between India and the UK, stating the need to keep the “eyes on the prize”.
Furthermore, highlighting the desire to enhance economic ties and foster mutually beneficial trade relations between India and the UK, Ellis expressed the urgency of finalising a bilateral Free Trade Agreement between the two nations before they enter their respective election cycles in 2024 and 2025.