British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is aware of India’s security concerns following violent clashes at its mission in London and a security review is underway, Downing Street said on Thursday.
The security review was announced by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in a statement last week following windows being smashed and the tricolour being attacked by pro-Khalistan flag-waving protesters at India House.
The UK Foreign Office has since been leading on this review of the security at the diplomatic mission, along with the Metropolitan Police.
“Discussions are being led by the Foreign Office with our police in the UK and our Indian counterparts. The Prime Minister hasn’t been involved directly but he is aware of them [discussions],” Prime Minister Sunak’s spokesperson told PTI at a Downing Street briefing.
Asked if the issue is likely to impact the ongoing India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations, which are now in their eighth round of talks, the spokesperson added: “The two issues are unconnected and the trade talks with India continue. Both sides want to see an enhanced relationship between our two countries.
“On security, we expressed our concerns about the scenes we saw outside the High Commission and a review is underway.” It came as the latest set of protests outside India House in London are expected over three days until Saturday, with a demonstration also planned outside the Indian Consulate in Birmingham on Sunday.
There has been a very visible Met Police presence around the Indian High Commission in London since the violent disorder on March 19, with protesters now confined behind barricades across the street from the mission premises.
During a planned demonstration there last Wednesday, protesters hurled coloured flares and water bottles towards the mission. They have since taken to social media to allege that the objects were hurled by the Indian mission instead, allegations which have been countered by India House.
India had registered a strong protest with the UK government and the issue was also raised in the House of Commons.
It followed UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly’s statement to condemn the “unacceptable“ acts of violence and an assurance to conduct a security review.
“We will always take the security of the High Commission, and all foreign missions in the UK, extremely seriously, and prevent and robustly respond to incidents such as this,” said Cleverly.
Meanwhile, government ministers have also been holding talks with Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami to reiterate plans to review the security measures at India House.
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