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Indian envoy to UK stopped from entering gurdwara in Scotland amid Canada row; New Delhi raises matter

The Indian High Commissioner was stopped by an alleged Khalistani supporter in Scotland, amid a diplomatic row between India and Canada over the killing of pro-Khalistan terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Several pro-Khalistani demonstrations have been carried out in the UK.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Glasgow Updated on: September 30, 2023 15:51 IST
Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami
Image Source : ANI/FILE Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami

Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Vikram Doraiswami was prevented from entering a gurdwara in Glasgow, Scotland on Albert Drive on Friday by an alleged Khalistani supporter.

A video was posted on the Instagram handle of 'Sikh Youth UK', in which a man blocked Doraiswami from entering the Glasgow Gurdwara in Scotland and said, "...They are hurting Sikhs in Canada and other places, every Sikh should protest against any Indian Ambassador as we did here in Glasgow."

The post by ‘Sikh Youth UK’ claims that there is an ongoing ban on Indian officials visiting the gurdwara in their official capacities. Two men were seen approaching the High Commissioner's vehicle in the parking area and one attempted to open it.

The video then shows another man saying that this is how any Indian ambassador or any Indian government official who visits the Gurdwara will be treated.

"We were called around 1.05 pm on Friday, 29 September, to a report of a disturbance that happened in the Albert Drive area of Glasgow. There were no reports of any injuries and enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances,” said a spokesperson of Police Scotland.

The development came at the end of Doraiswami's two-day visit to Scotland, involving a series of meetings and discussions with local political leaders, diaspora representatives, business chiefs and university groups. 

The meeting at the gurdwara was part of the events at the request of the gurdwara committee for the envoy to meet Sikh groups and address their concerns, sources said, adding that the unnecessary altercation of few "radical elements" interrupted a community engagement planned by peace-loving Sikhs.

Matter was raised with UK authorities: Sources

An official response from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is awaited. However, sources said that the matter has been raised with UK authorities over Doraiswami not being allowed on the premises of the gurdwara. The sources also said that the issue raised concerns about the security provided to the Indian diplomats there.

The UK incident comes amid strained ties between India and Canada ties following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of "credible evidence" of the Indian government’s involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Notably, Khalistani activities have taken strength in both UK and Canada with several demonstrations against Indian diplomats. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the allegations will not impact its own ongoing trade negotiations with India.

Earlier this month, Sunak said that the UK is working closely with its partners in the Indian government to tackle the threat from pro-Khalistan extremism. "No form of extremism is acceptable in the UK, and I take the duty of the government to disrupt and counter violent, divisive ideologies, whatever they may be, very seriously," he said.

The UK has also said that it is in "close touch" with its Canadian partners about serious allegations made by Trudeau on India's link in the alleged assassination of Nijjar.

Terrorists given space in Canada due to political compulsion: EAM Jaishankar

At an interactive event at Hudson University in the US capital, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar addressed the ongoing diplomatic tensions between India and Canada by saying that the latter's attitude towards terrorism has been permissive.

"This has been an issue of great, friction for many years with Canada. But in the last few years, it has come back, very much into play, because of what we consider to be a very permissive Canadian attitude towards terrorists, extremist people who openly advocate violence. And they have been given operating space in Canada because of the compulsions of Canadian politics," he said.

Further, he opened up about the visa suspension during the conversation where he stressed that Ottawa has become a hub for organised crime from India and added this has now mixed with human trafficking, secessionism, violence and terrorism. 

Jaishankar further underscored that Canada has allowed extremists who were involved in anti-India activities. 

India-Canada relations

India-Canada relations nosedived to the lowest point after Trudeau's allegations in Canadian Parliament of "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar, who was gunned down in British Columbia's Surrey on June 18.

India angrily rejected the Canadian PM's allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to a similar move by Ottawa. India also temporarily suspended visa services for Canadian nationals in view of "security threats" and called for a reduction of Canadian diplomats in New Delhi. 

(with agency input)

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