Scotland Yard on Thursday announced a series of restrictions on the proposed Kashmir march on Sunday, prohibiting gathering of protestors outside the Indian high commission, which was the scene of violence on August 15 and September 3.
The restrictions on the 10,000-strong protest were announced following pressure from New Delhi and the Indian community concerned over potential for repeat of recent violence.
Due to begin from outside Downing Street at 10 am and end at 5 pm outside India House, it will now begin at 2 pm there and conclude in Trafalgar Square.
Matt Twist of Scotland Yard said: “Hundreds of protests take place each year in London, representing many different causes and views. We understand that this is a significant anniversary date for those protesting, and also recognise this falls on the important Hindu festival of Diwali“.
“My intention on the day will be to balance the rights of those protesting with those who may be affected by it. We will take all necessary steps to prevent crime and disorder. Those attending the demonstrations can expect to see a significant police presence“.
“Taking into account the anticipated number of protestors, and in order to prevent serious disruption, we have imposed pre-event conditions on the Free Kashmir protest under Sections 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act“.
“The assembly and march must start in Parliament Street, process along Whitehall and conclude in Trafalgar Square. These are very iconic London locations, allowing good visibility of the protest, but will avoid the serious disruption that would be caused if roads closer to the High Commission became blocked,” he added.
India had sent a ‘note verbale‘ (diplomatic note) to the Foreign Office on the issue, amidst fury that concerns raised by the community and New Delhi over such anti-Indian activities are perceived to have been treated as “routine“.
The issue figured in the House of Commons on Wednesday, when Conservative MP Bob Blackman recalled the violence outside India House of August 15 and September 3, and asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson what action is being taken to prevent violence on Sunday.
Blackman asked Johnson: “In this House, we defend forever the right to peaceful protest, yet on 15 August, and just three weeks ago, pro-Pakistani organisations held violent protests outside the Indian high commission“.
“This Sunday, there is the threat of 10,000 people being brought to demonstrate outside the Indian high commission on Diwali—the most holy day for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. What action will the Government take to prevent violent protests this Sunday“.
Johnson responded: “I join my hon. Friend, who speaks strongly and well for his constituency, in deploring demonstrations that end up being intimidating in any way“.
“He will understand that this is a police operational matter, but I have just been speaking to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and she will be raising it with the police. We must all be clear in this House that violence and intimidation anywhere in this country are wholly unacceptable“.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We respect the right to peaceful protest within the law but strongly condemn any damage caused to diplomatic missions. The safety and security of diplomatic missions in the UK, and their staff, is of utmost concern“.
“We have been and remain in close contact with the Indian High Commission in London to emphasise this.“
Source from HT media