‘Disgraceful’: India condemns attack on UK High Commissioner in Scotland
Indian High Commission in London issues statement following attempts by pro-Khalistani activists to prevent the entry of High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami into a gurdwara in Glasgow
The Indian High Commission in London has issued a strongly-worded statement, condemning attempts by “extremist elements” to prevent the High Commissioner and Consul General from entering a gurdwara in Scotland, and calling it a ‘disgraceful’ incident.
The statement came hours after a video of the incident showing a purported pro-Khalistani activist blocking India’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Vikram Doraiswami outside the Glasgow gurdwara, went viral on social media.
In its statement issued on Saturday (September 30), the embassy said the incident occurred on September 29 and the three interceptors were non-residents of Scotland who “deliberately disrupted a planned interaction organized by the Gurudwara Committee for the community, the High Commissioner and the Consul General of India” to discuss community and consular issues.
The statement said the organisers were allegedly threatened and abused by these elements.
“The organisers included senior community leaders, ladies and committee members, and a member of the Scottish Parliament. They were threatened and abused by these elements. In an effort to prevent any potential altercation, the HC (High Commissioner) and CG (Consul General) decided to leave the premises,” the statement read.
It said the pro-Khalistani activists tried to violently force open the door of the High Commissioner’s car, but were stopped by one of the organisers.
“One of the non-local extremist elements attempted to violently force open the HC’s car door – a matter that will require suitable police consideration. It is due to the quick reaction of one of the organisers, who physically intervened at the car door, that a bigger incident was avoided,” it said.
The High Commission said it has already reported the matter to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Metropolitan police.
Scottish government expresses concern
Soon after the statement was issued, the FCDO minister for Indo-Pacific took to social media soon after to express her concern over the incident.
“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,” Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in a post on X.
The gurdwara committee and local community leaders have since expressed their regret over the incident and have called on the authorities to take action against the culprits. The local police said it was called to the “disturbance”, and its enquiries remain ongoing.
“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 Police Scotland spokesperson.
The incident follows a diplomatic standoff over the issue of pro-Khalistan extremism after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's statement in the country's Parliament last week that the authorities are “actively pursuing credible allegations" related to Indian government involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a designated terrorist, allegations which the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has strongly rejected as “absurd and motivated”.
“This is exactly how we should be greeting any Indian ambassador, anyone from the Indian government who comes in an official capacity under any excuse of doing visa applications or whatever it might be,” a Sikh man is heard saying in a video posted on social media by a group called Sikh Youth UK following the incident in Glasgow.
The incident came towards the end of a two-day visit of the Indian High Commissioner to Scotland, which involved a series of meetings and discussions with local political leaders, diaspora representatives, business chiefs and university groups.
During his meeting with Scotland’s First Minister, Hamza Yousaf, the issue of British Sikh Jagtar Singh Johal in custody on terrorism charges in India was also raised.
“Replying to some issues raised by Yousaf, the high commissioner stressed that due process is being given under laws to Johal, who faces eight serious terror charges. Yousaf also ‘appreciated’ the high commissioner’s clear message that rights of all communities are guaranteed in India’s pluralist and free democracy, the Indian High Commission posted on X with reference to the meeting.
The Indian mission added that the discussions with Scottish leaders ranged from India-Scotland cooperation in sectors across fintech, sustainable agriculture, tourism and water conservation. A visit to the Scottish Parliament, a lecture entitled ‘India@75’ at the University of Edinburgh, an interaction at the University of Strathclyde and a breakfast meeting with leading business chiefs on topics ranging from whisky, aviation, energy, agriculture, green economy, space and investments were part of the packed two-day schedule to the region.