• Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Khalistan activists stop India envoy to UK from entering Scotland gurdwara

A video also showed two men standing allegedly trying to open the door of the diplomat’s vehicle which was locked from inside.

Indian high commissioner to UK Vikram Doraiswami (ANI Photo/Shrikant Singh)

By: Shubham Ghosh

AMID India’s diplomatic spat with Canada over the death of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia in June, its high commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami was on Friday (29) stopped by Khalistani extremists from entering a gurdwara in Glasgow, Scotland.

A video went viral on social media showing a pro-Khalistan activist blocking Doraiswami’s way as he tried to enter the Glasgow Gurdwara on Albert Dive.

The video also showed two men standing near the high commissioner’s car in the parking area. One of them allegedly tried to open the vehicle’s door which was locked from inside. The diplomat’s car was then departing from the gurdwara premises.

It was also reported that the Khalistani extremists threatened the religious venue’s managing staff members. Doraiswami visited the gurdwara on the invitation of its managing committee.

While there was immediate reaction from the Indian government over the incident, the Asian News International reported citing sources that the issue has been raised with the UK foreign office and the police.

Manjinder Singh Sirsa, a national secretary of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, condemned the act saying there was no discrimination at “God’s place”.

“I strongly condemn this (that Vikram Doraiswami was allegedly stopped from entering a gurdwara in Scotland). Anyone from any religion or community can come here (gurdwara). We are not that religion that believes in violence instead we are among those who are saviours of humanity. Sikhs are the saviours. PM Modi has praised the work of our community. Sikhs are represented everywhere in the world. The safest place for the Sikhs in the world is in India….” he told ANI.

Gurcharan Singh Grewal, general secretary of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, which looks after the management of gurdwaras and Sikh places of worship in various parts of India, said the people of UK were upset with the “illegal arrest” of Jagtar Singh Johal by the Indian authorities and what happened in Scotland was a result of that.

Speaking to ANI, he said, “People of England, they are upset with the illegal arrest of Jaggi Johal. That is the reason all of this is happening… We want to ask the Indian Embassy that any kind of tension should not be created… If something like this has happened with an ambassador in a Gurdwara, it affects the reputation of Sikhs… Earlier, an ambassador was beaten, we don’t support it… The reputation of Sikhs is affected all over the world…There is no restriction on entering any Gurdwara. But I don’t know what their reasons were. To avoid any tensions created because of his (Vikram Doraiswami) visit, they must have stopped him…”

In July, pro-Khalistan protesters were seen carrying Khalistani flags and posters of Doraiswami and the Indian consul general in Birmingham Shashank Vikram during a demonstration outside the Indian high commission in London where the two officials were blamed for the death of Nijjar.

Also in March, a protest was staged outside the Indian high commission in the British capital during which pro-Khalistan activists pulled down the Indian Tricolour hoisted in front of the diplomatic building. India summoned a senior Indian diplomat posted in New Delhi and asked London over its alleged failure to secure the diplomatic establishment.

India and Canada have locked horns over a diplomatic dispute after the latter’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau accused New Delhi of being involved in the murder of Khalistan separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil. India strongly reacted, calling the allegations “absurd” and “motivated”.

The two sides also expelled each other’s diplomats and New Delhi even suspended issuing visas to Canadian citizens.

Canada has sought support from its Five Eyes allies, that includes the UK, on the issue but none has openly backed Ottawa, which according to experts, is due to geopolitical compulsion.

Indian high commission releases statement

The Indian high commission in London on Saturday (30) issued a press release stating three persons from outside Scotland “deliberately” disrupted a planned interaction organised by the Gurdwara Committee for the community, the high commissioner and the consul general of India on community and consular issues.

It also said the organising body, including community leaders, women, committee members and a member of the Scottish parliament were “threatened and abused by these elements”.

It said the high commissioner and consul general left the gurdwara premises to avoid any further altercation.

The commission also said one of the extremist elements tried to open the door of the high commissioner’s car forcefully but a timely intervention from an organiser prevented a “bigger incident”.

The release said the high commission reported the matter to the foreign, commonwealth and development office and the Metropolitan Police. It added that several community organisations, including the organisers of the particular event, regretted the incident and urged authorities to take action.

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