Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held a telephone conversation with his UK counterpart Rishi Sunak and called for ‘strong action’ against those who attacked the Indian High Commission last month.
The tricolour flying atop the Indian High Commission in London was grabbed at by a group of protesters waving separatist Khalistani flags and chanting pro-Khalistani slogans on March 19, a day after Punjab Police launched a massive crackdown against radical preacher Amritpal Singh.
According to Prime Minister Modi’s Office, he raised the issue of the security of Indian diplomatic establishments in the UK and called for strong action against anti-India elements by the UK Government.
Sunak told PM Modi that the UK considers the attack on Indian High Commission ‘totally unacceptable’ and assured of the security of the Indian Mission and its personnel.
In a readout of the call between the two leaders, Downing Street said Sunak stressed that extremism had no place in the UK and updated on the steps being taken to ensure the security of Indian High Commission staff.
UK officials reached Delhi to discuss ‘evolution of Khalistan movement’ with experts
On Wednesday, in a separate development, India asked UK at a bilateral event to crack down on pro-Khalistan extremists ‘exploiting asylum laws’ to abet terrorism.
UK officials will interact with experts in Delhi this week to understand how Sikh extremism has evolved over the years, ThePrint has learnt. The development comes amid weeks of diplomatic strains between the two countries over the Khalistan issue, which is believed to find active support from a section of the Indian diaspora.
After the high commission incident, India lodged a “strong protest” with the UK government and questioned the absence of security at the mission in London. Security was also scaled down outside the house of UK High Commissioner Alex Ellis in Delhi.
Earlier this week, a report by British newspaper The Times claimed that India has “disengaged” from free trade agreement (FTA) talks with the UK over the Khalistan issue. The FTA, which saw its Diwali deadline lapse last year, has seen many delays.
However, the Indian government and the UK mission in Delhi have denied such reports, adding that both sides remain “committed” to wrapping up a trade deal.
Prime Minister Modi also raised the issue of economic offenders who have sought refuge in the UK and sought progress on the return of these fugitives so that they can appear before the Indian judicial system.
The two leaders also reviewed the progress on a number of bilateral issues as part of the India-UK Roadmap 2030, and expressed satisfaction at the recent high-level exchanges and growing cooperation, particularly in trade and economic sectors.
As per an official statement, they agreed on the need for an early conclusion of a mutually beneficial Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.
PM Modi also invited Sunak for the G20 Summit to be held in Delhi in September 2023. He conveyed greetings to his British counterpart and the Indian community in the UK on the eve of Baisakhi.