“Baseless,” India denies reports of halting trade talks with UK over London High Commission attack

10 April, 2023 | Pragati Singh

picture 2023 04 10T1614461681123507680.234 World

The India-UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations began on June 17, 2022.

According to government sources, India condemned as “baseless” suggestions in British media that it had halted talks for a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom in response to the attack on the Indian high commission in London last month.

According to the London-based newspaper The Times, which cited senior British government sources, the Indian government has “disengaged” from trade discussions and stated that there will be no progress “without a public condemnation of the Khalistan movement.” An Indian government source “denied” and called the UK publication’s report “baseless.”

The India-UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations began on June 17, 2022.

“Indians don’t want to talk about trade until they get a very public demonstration of the condemnation of Khalistan extremism in the UK,” The Times quoted a British official statement saying.

Protesters flying Khalistan banners demonstrated outside the British High Commission in London on March 19, this year. One of the protesters ascended the building’s balcony and tore down the Indian national flag. The rally was held to condemn recent police actions in Punjab.

A protestor is seen on the balcony attempting to bring down the Indian flag in a video of the incident that has since gone viral on social media. At the end of the video, another man can be seen climbing the balcony and reclaiming the Tricolor from the Khalistan supporter.

The British High Commissioner, Alex Ellis, described the attack on the Indian High Commission in the UK “disgraceful acts” and said it was completely unacceptable.

In addition, New Delhi summoned the senior-most British diplomat, deputy high commissioner Christina Scott, to submit a protest.

“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,” according to an official press release by the Minstry of External Affairs (MEA).

Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, recently stated that India expects more action than assurance and hopes that other governments will act against and prosecute individuals engaged in the tragedy.

“On the issues of security, whenever we feel there is an issue relating to the security of our missions abroad, high commissions and embassies, this issue is taken up. Whenever we have concerns where we feel that there will be some activities that may harm our interests, we do take it up,” he said while answering a media query on the vandalism.

Khalistan activists are also accused of attacking the Indian Consulate in San Francisco (SFO). Social media users shared videos of fans smashing down the doors and barging into the office. Though images of the devastation at the San Francisco consulate have circulated on social media, Indian officials have yet to confirm the occurrence.

The images indicated that the incident occurred at the consulate, but the date could not be determined. Images circulated online show a large crowd waving Khalistan flags while mounted on wooden poles and smashing glass doors and windows of the consulate building. They burst past temporary security barricades erected by the municipal police and put two Khalistani flags within the premises, shouting pro-Khalistan slogans.