Nation before politics

Tharoor denounces anti-Modi protest in UK, says playing into ‘hands of anti-Indian elements’

New Delhi: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor kept political differences aside to speak up against the spate of demonstrations and protests that have greeted PM Modi in the UK during his visit for the Commonwealth Leaders meet in London.
Tharoor wrote that while he supported UK Indians who expressed concern about the government’s ‘weak response to rapes and crimes’, he didn’t condone such attacks on PM Modi abroad.
He wrote on Twitter: “While supporting UK Indians who express concern about Govt’s weak response to rapes & crimes against women & girls, I cannot support such attacks on @PMOIndia abroad. This plays into the hands of anti-Indian elements (JKLF, Pakistani groups, Khalistanis) piggybacking on our protests.”
Some groups protesting atrocities in India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in London have turned violent after a tricolour was torn down from one of the official flagpoles set up for all 53 Commonwealth countries.
Modi, who is in the UK for bilateral talks and the multilateral Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), was greeted by protesters as he met his British counterpart Theresa May.
Some of the protesters at Parliament Square yesterday turned aggressive after the Indian tricolour was torn down from the flagpole.
A senior broadcast journalist from one of the leading Indian media channels covering the protests was caught in a violent scrum with some of the more aggressive pro-Khalistani protesters and Scotland Yard officers on duty had to step in to the rescue. The group is planning to file a complaint with the Metropolitan Police on the incident.
“We have expressed our concerns with the British authorities and they have apologised for the incident. We have been warning against some of these elements out to make trouble and they have assured us of action. The Indian flag has now been replaced,” a senior Indian official associated with the PM’s visit said.
The pro-Khalistani demonstrators from Sikh Federation UK and demonstrators from the so-called “Minorities Against Modi” group, led by Pakistani-origin peer Lord Ahmed, were among nearly 500 protesters who descended upon Parliament Square. These included groups led by some Kashmiri separatist groups and at one point, some of them had surrounded the Mahatma Gandhi statue at the square with their banners and flags.
Officials involved with the prime ministerial visit to the UK had said that protests and demonstrations are “part and parcel of any democratic society” as long as they remain peaceful. There are now concerns that some of the more aggressive elements hijacked the tone of the protests.
Earlier on Wednesday, flash mob of sari-clad women with dhols set the tone for the pro-Modi crowds opposite 10 Downing Street as the Indian PM arrived for his breakfast meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.