Hindustan Times, London
Protest outside India House.(HT Photo)
The Indian high commission on Sunday questioned the security provided by Scotland Yard after nearly 4,000 protestors were allowed to gather to protest against farm laws in a demonstration that it said included anti-India elements.
Scotland Yard arrested four people, including a man and three teenagers, and advised motorists to avoid the area around the Indian mission in central London after thousands converged from various parts of the UK, leading to traffic jams in the area for some hours.
Indian quarters expressed strong disappointment over the security arrangements after the protestors were allowed despite restrictions in place over Covid-19 and the police stating that a “robust policing plan” was in place.
Indian diplomat Vishwesh Negi said, “The high commission had been informed that as per normal practice permission had been sought… for a drive-past protest involving about 40 vehicles. We were also aware that the police had given specific warning against the gathering of more than 30 people”.
“The developing situation was brought to the attention of the UK Foreign Office and Home Office. The London Metropolitan Police managed, controlled and eventually disposed the crowds. We could see that a few violent were arrested”.
Also read: Satellite imagery shows China setting up border villages between India, Bhutan
“Our high commission has been coordinating closely with the authorities concerned and we will, together with them, address the issues that have come up: for example, how this gathering of thousands could take place without specific permission, etc,” he added.
The teenagers were arrested after they were seen setting off “firework towards a large crowd. They were also found to be in possession of a number of other fireworks,” the police said, adding that officers are in attendance at the protest in the Aldwych area.
Motorists were advised to avoid Strand, Waterloo Bridge and Fleet Street near the Indian mission, which was cordoned off by a line of police officers, while a large crowd shouted slogans and held placards against the Narendra Modi government on the other side of the road, demanding scrapping of the controversial farm laws.
There were also some demonstrations at Trafalgar Square. Reports from various parts of London and some approach roads into the capital also witnessed traffic jams as cars bearing flags and placards were driven by protestors arriving from various places.
Negi added, “As expected, it soon became clear that the gathering was led by anti-India separatists who had taken the opportunity of the farm protests ostensibly not to back the farmers in India but use the opportunity to pursue their own agenda”.
“As many are aware, the protest against agriculture reform bills in India is part of a democratic process. It is work in progress in our functioning democracy. Government of India is in talks with the protesters which are still ongoing. Needless to say, it is an internal issue of India”.
Indian officials have been briefing interlocutors in the British government and parliament in recent days on the fundamental features of farm sector reforms.
The protestors had gathered in central London even after the police issued a reminder that strict regulations remain in place to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease. The reminder meant that anyone gathering for the protest risks enforcement action by officers, the police said.