London : Groups protesting against atrocities in India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in UK turned violent after a tricolor was torn down from one of the official flagpoles set up for all 53 Commonwealth countries.
Modi who is in the UK for bilateral talks and the multilateral Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was greeted by protesters as he met his British counterpart Theresa May.
Some of the protesters at Parliament Square turned aggressive after the Indian tricolor was torn down from the flagpole.
The Ministry of External Affairs stated that the matter was taken up with the British authorities who expressed their regrets and immediately had the torn flag replaced with a new one.
The pro-Khalistani demonstrators from Sikh Federation UK and demonstrators from the so-called ‘Minorities against Modi’ group led by Pakistani-origin peer Lord Ahmed were among nearly 500 protesters who descended upon Parliament Square. These included groups led by some Kashmiri separatist groups and at one point, some of them had surrounded the Mahatma Gandhi statue at the square with their banners and flags.
Officials involved with the prime ministerial visit to the UK had said that protests and demonstrations are “part and parcel of any democratic society” as long as they remain peaceful. There are now concerns that some of the more aggressive elements hijacked the tone of the protests.
Earlier on Wednesday, flash mob of sari-clad women with dhols set the tone for the pro-Modi crowds opposite 10 Downing Street as the Indian PM arrived for his breakfast meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May. They were joined by the Friends of India Society International group which spearheaded a crowd of Indian diaspora from across the UK waving banners such as “Chak De India” and “Jai Hind” outside Downing Street and nearby Parliament Square.