British MP, Indian community groups demand action over Indian flag desecration in UK

The British government is under growing pressure to take action against protesters behind the desecration of the Indian flag at Parliament Square in London.

Published: 23rd April 2018 08:01 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd April 2018 08:01 PM   |  A+A-

Indian flag used for representation. (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

LONDON: The British government is under growing pressure to take action against protesters behind the desecration of the Indian flag at Parliament Square in London during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's UK visit last week.

Conservative party MP Bob Blackman, who had raised a question in the House of Commons a day after the incident on April 18, plans to write to UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd and the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, pressing for a police investigation.

"A quite disgraceful event was taking place in Parliament Square, where the Indian national flag, which had been raised to celebrate the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), was burned," Blackman, Tory MP for Harrow East, said in the Commons last Thursday.

He said he was all for free speech, but "that seems to transcend free speech."

Reacting to the "shocking announcement", Leadsom had invited Blackman to write giving details of what he saw or heard which he confirmed on Monday was in process.

"I will be writing to the Home Secretary and Leader of the House, following my questions on Wednesday at PMQs (Prime Minister's Questions) and on Thursday at Business Questions, asking for a police investigation," he said.

The Indian government had issued a statement saying it expects legal action against those behind the desecration of the tricolour and also those responsible for instigating the incident.

"We expect action, including legal action, against the people involved in the incident and also people responsible for instigating the incident," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had told reporters.

An online petition directed at British Prime Minister Theresa May and Opposition Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn on the change.org website has nearly hit its target of 7,500 signatures.

"Demand an action against the culprits who brought down Indian flag and torn under the watchful eyes of British police, reads the petition started by the Friends of India Society International (FISI) UK.

The perpetrators, caught on camera during the protests last Wednesday, were pro-Khalistani demonstrators brought together with Kashmiri separatist groups under the banner of the so-called "Minorities Against Modi" group, led by Pakistani-origin peer Lord Ahmed.

The Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB), an umbrella body of over 400 Hindu organisations in the UK, has also written to the UK Home Secretary calling for action against the peer and Sikh Federation UK for the "hate crime" against British citizens during the protests.

"The Pro-Khalistani demonstrators from the Sikh Federation UK and demonstrators from the group led by Pakistani-origin peer Ahmed were among nearly 500 supporters who indulged in this senseless violence and aggression and defilement of the Indian National flag, the HFB letter signed by President Trupti Patel notes.

Lord Nazir Ahmed let the anti-India protest turn violent and the ripping and burning of the Indian National flag was indeed a senseless act of aggression and insult to all true democracies...We therefore seek urgent action from our Government to strip Lord Ahmed of his Lordship and an enquiry be set up for him to account for the violent protests he instigated and organised, the letter adds.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had earlier issued a statement on behalf of the UK government, saying it was "disappointed with the action taken by a small minority in Parliament Square".

Scotland Yard said "enquiries" into the incident are ongoing and no arrests have been made so far.

A senior broadcast journalist covering the protests, who was caught up in the scrum involving the Indian flag, has since registered a formal police complaint with the Metropolitan Police, which is also under investigation.

Sikh Federation UK termed the entire incident an "over reaction" to an "impromptu removal of the Indian flag".

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