India summons senior British diplomat over pulling down of flag at its High Commission in London during protest

India has said it summoned a senior British diplomat in New Delhi to convey its “strong protest” over actions taken by “separatist and extremist elements” against the Indian High Commission in the UK.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday, the diplomat was summoned late in the evening and an “explanation was demanded for the complete absence of British security” that allowed these “elements to enter the High Commission premises.”

“She was reminded in this regard of the basic obligations of the UK Government under the Vienna Convention,” the ministry said.

It also noted that India finds “unacceptable the indifference of the UK Government to the security of Indian diplomatic premises and personnel in the UK,” saying “it is expected that the UK Government would take immediate steps to identify, arrest and prosecute each one of those involved in today’s incident and put in place stringent measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.”

Before the Indian statement, British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis tweeted on Sunday: “I condemn the disgraceful acts today against the people and premises of the @HCI_London – totally unacceptable.”

The Indian news agency Press Trust of India said some “Khalistani elements” pulled down the Indian flag at the Indian High Commission in London “during a protest.”

A section of India’s Sikh religious community launched the Khalistan movement in the late 1970s to establish a separate homeland in the northern Punjab region. While Sikh secessionism in India has died down, pro-secession groups have become active internationally.

– Crackdown on ‘preacher’

The protest in London came as authorities in the northern Indian state of Punjab launched a crackdown on a self-styled preacher, Amritpal Singh, and his supporters. The crackdown entered the third day on Monday and Singh is on run.

Singh, who has in media interviews recently said he supports the Khalistan movement for a separate Sikh homeland, gained prominence after he stormed a police station in Punjab, along with supporters — with many of them holding guns and swords — demanding the release of an arrested aide.

Singh was also recently appointed the head of Waris Punjab De (the heirs of Punjab), an outfit formed by Deep Sidhu — an actor and activist who was arrested in connection with violence during a protest held by farmers in the capital New Delhi and died in a car crash last year.

In view of the crackdown and to maintain law and order, the Punjab government has suspended the mobile internet and messaging services till Tuesday noon, according to the officials.

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