New Delhi: India on Sunday, March 19, summoned a senior United Kingdom diplomat over the removal of the Indian flag atop the high commission building in London by pro-Khalistan protesters, accusing the UK of “indifference” to the security of Indian diplomatic premises.
Videos of pro-Khalistan protesters outside the Indian high commission in the UK had spread across social media. Amidst chants of Khalistan zindabad, a protestor climbed onto the flagpole above the door and brought down the Indian flag without any hindrance from any security personnel.
With the UK high commissioner Alexander W. Ellis travelling, his deputy Christina Scott was summoned to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs late on Sunday night.
Ahead of his colleague being summoned, Ellis posted on his official Twitter account that the “disgraceful acts” at India House in London were “totally unacceptable”.
I condemn the disgraceful acts today against the people and premises of the @HCI_London – totally unacceptable.
— Alex Ellis (@AlexWEllis) March 19, 2023
Later, UK minister of state for foreign commonwealth and development affairs, Tariq Ahmad tweeted that he was “appalled” at the attack and described it as a “completely unacceptable action against the integrity of the Mission and its staff”.
“The UK Government will always take the security of the Indian High Commission seriously,” he wrote.
Am appalled by today’s attack on the Indian High Commission in London. This is a completely unacceptable action against the integrity of the Mission and its staff. The UK Government will always take the security of the Indian High Commission seriously.
— Lord (Tariq)Ahmad of Wimbledon (@tariqahmadbt) March 19, 2023
Unusually, the MEA had announced that a UK diplomat would be summoned in advance. “The senior most UK diplomat in New Delhi is being summoned,” said the MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Sunday night.
Within half an hour, the MEA issued a press release after the UK deputy high commissioner was handed over India’s “strong protest”.
“The senior-most UK diplomat in New Delhi was summoned late evening today to convey India’s strong protest at the actions taken by separatist and extremist elements against the Indian High Commission in London earlier in the day,” said the MEA press note.
An “explanation” was sought from the UK on the “complete absence of the British security that allowed these elements to enter the High Commission premises”.
Reminding the UK about the “basic obligations under the Vienna convention”, the MEA press release added, “India finds unacceptable the indifference of the UK Government to the security of Indian diplomatic premises and personnel in the UK”.
India demanded that the UK government take “immediate steps to identify, arrest and prosecute each one of those involved in today’s incident, and put in place stringent measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
In September 2019, the Indian high commission’s windows were smashed after a Kashmiri separatist march threw stones and eggs into the protests. India had then termed the incident “unacceptable” and urged the UK to provide adequate security to its officials and premises.