India foreign minister raises Khalistan issue with UK leaders: ‘We are trying to get the government here to understand…’
The diplomat, who concluded his five-day visit to the UK on November 17, called his tour ‘timely’ following a series of cross-party engagements amid ‘substantial progress’ on the current talks over a free-trade agreement.
Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar addresses the Indian diaspora at a Diwali event in London, UK, on Monday, November 13, 2023. (ANI Photo)
INDIAN external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has taken up New Delhi’s long-standing concerns about pro-Khalistan extremism in the UK during his meetings with the country’s top leaders, emphasising that they should be on guard against the misuse of freedom of expression and speech.
The top diplomat, who concluded his five-day visit to the UK on Wednesday (15), called his tour “timely” following a series of cross-party engagements amid “substantial progress” on the current negotiations over a free-trade agreement (FTA).
During his meeting with British prime minister Rishi Sunak, Jaishankar conveyed best wishes on behalf of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Sunak and Jaishankar expressed satisfaction at positive momentum in enhancing the India-UK relationship as an important factor in addressing contemporary challenges. They also reviewed implementation of Roadmap 2030 and discussed ongoing negotiations for an India-UK FTA, India’s external affairs ministry said in a press release on Thursday (16).
During a media interaction at the Indian high commission in London before leaving, Jaishankar shared some insights from his discussions with the UK cabinet ministers and opposition leaders which covered a whole spectrum of global and bilateral issues.
India’s concerns regarding pro-Khalistan extremism in relation to the safety of its diplomats in the country were among the topics that came up during his meetings with the UK’s newly appointed home secretary James Cleverly and national security adviser Tim Barrow.
“We have long-standing concerns about extremist and sometimes even violent activities of various forces, including those who propagate Khalistan,” said Jaishankar.
“We have been trying to get the government here to understand that while we as a fellow democracy certainly understand the importance of freedom of expression, and of speech, they should be on guard against the misuse of these freedoms,” he said.
With reference to the violent protests at India House in March this year in which the Indian national flag was pulled down by a mob of protesters, he said the “gravity of the situation is sharply recognised” and India’s expectation is that its diplomatic mission would be provided requisite protection to conduct their activities in an unrestricted way and there would be a “firm stance against the advocacy of violence and extremism”.
During his meeting with Cleverly, the two leaders “underscored the need for close collaboration on combating violent extremism and radicalism and agreed to deepen and expand dialogue on these and other shared concerns,” the external affairs ministry said.
(With PTI inputs)