Glasgow:The Indian High Commission to the United Kingdom has officially informed UK authorities about the “disgraceful incident” that occurred at the Glasgow Gurdwara where individuals from outside Scotland deliberately caused disruption during a scheduled interaction event for the Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami.
The High Commission has reported the incident to the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the Metropolitan Police.
“On September 29, 2023, three persons- all from areas outside Scotland-deliberately disrupted a planned interaction organised by the Gurudwara Committee for the community, the High Commissioner and the Consul General of India. This interaction was to discuss community and consular issues”, the High Commission of India, London, said in a statement today.
The statement also conveyed the collective regret of various community organisations, including the organisers, senior community leaders, ladies and committee members, and a member of the Scottish Parliament. They formally expressed their concern over the incident and called upon the authorities to take appropriate action against those responsible.
The Indian Mission also stated that one of the non-local extremist elements attempted to violently force open the High Commissioner’s car door – “a matter that will require suitable police consideration.”
The Indian mission in London also said that due to the quick reaction of one of the organisers, who physically intervened at the car door, “a bigger incident was avoided.”
Scotland MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed and Minister for Indo-Pacific at FCDO Anne-Marie Trevelyan, reacting to the incident, said, “Concerned to see that the Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami was stopped from meeting with the Gurudwara Committee at the Gurudwara in Glasgow. The safety and security of foreign diplomats is of utmost importance and our places of worship in the UK must be open to all.”
Concerned to see that the Indian High Commissioner @VDoraiswami was stopped from meeting with the Gurudwara Committee at the Gurudwara in Glasgow.
The safety and security of foreign diplomats is of utmost importance and our places of worship in the UK must be open to all.
— Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP (@annietrev) September 30, 2023
The statement was released after Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Vikram Doraiswami, faced an unexpected hurdle during his visit to a gurdwara in Glasgow, Scotland.
A video circulating on the Instagram account of ‘Sikh Youth UK’ captured the moment when a man, purportedly a pro-Khalistani activist, obstructed Doraiswami from entering the Glasgow Gurudwara on Albert Drive.
Amidst an ongoing diplomatic dispute between India and Canada over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, tensions seem to be spreading. The man in the video voiced his concerns, saying, “…They are hurting Sikhs in Canada and other places, every Sikh should protest against any Indian Ambassador like we did here in Glasgow.”
According to ‘Sikh Youth UK,’ there exists a continuous ban on Indian officials visiting the gurdwara in their official capacities. The video shows two men near the High Commissioner’s car in the parking area, with one attempting to open the locked car door from the inside. Subsequently, the high commissioner’s car left the gurudwara premises.
Another individual in the video expressed that this treatment would be reserved for any Indian ambassador or government official visiting the Gurdwara in the future. He mentioned the ongoing situation in Canada, where the Canadian Prime Minister had openly criticized India and expelled Indian diplomats.
This incident was initially reported by the Times of India (TOI). A pro-Khalistan activist informed TOI that the Indian High Commissioner had planned to meet with the gurdwara committee of the Glasgow Gurdwara on Albert Drive. However, he was met with opposition and eventually left. The activist noted that there was a brief confrontation and expressed that Indian officials were generally unwelcome in UK gurdwaras.
Amidst the growing tensions, the Indian High Commission in London and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) have yet to issue a formal response to the incident. This event coincides with a strain in India-Canada relations following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations regarding India’s involvement in the assassination of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India has vehemently denied these claims, dismissing them as ‘absurd’ and ‘motivated,’ and Canada has not provided any public evidence to support the allegations.
In addition to this incident, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar has raised concerns about threats, violence, and intimidation targeting Indian diplomats and missions in Canada. He questioned whether similar actions would be tolerated in other countries and emphasized that the situation in Ottawa should not be normalized.
Furthermore, the UK has expressed its involvement, stating that it is in “close touch” with its Canadian counterparts regarding the serious allegations made by Prime Minister Trudeau. The UK government spokesperson indicated that it would be inappropriate to comment further during the ongoing investigation by Canadian authorities.
Notably, the United Kingdom’s Security Minister, Tom Tugendhat, recently announced increased funding to bolster the country’s capabilities in tackling ‘pro-Khalistan extremism.’ This decision followed a meeting with Jaishankar and aims to enhance the understanding of the threat posed by pro-Khalistan extremism, building upon joint efforts between the UK and India through the Joint-Extremism Task Force.