LONDON: Thousands of people protested outside the Indian High Commission in London on Thursday by waving Pakistani and Kashmiri flags in order to show support towards the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
The decision of India to abolish special status for its portion of Kashmir, along with curbs on movement and a communications blackout, which caused fury in Pakistan, cut trade and transport links and expelled the envoy of India in retaliation.
Banners were carried out by the protesters in London saying that “Kashmir is Burning”, “Free Kashmir” and “Modi: Make Tea Not War”, according to a Reuters reporter.
A small counter-demonstration was kept apart from the main protest by the police.
A speech was delivered by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day on Thursday in which his decision to remove the special rights of Kashmir among the bold moves of his second term was spotlighted.
Many of the protesters of London had come to the capital from other English cities on specially chartered buses.
A British pensioner of Kashmiri origin who came from Birmingham on one of the coaches, Amin Tahir said “We want to show our solidarity with our Kashmiri brothers.”
He added “Since 1947 Kashmir has been struggling to be free from India. Now Modi has changed the law by force to stop Kashmir’s autonomy.”
Over 200 officers on duty
On August 13, It was reported on August 13 that the Metropolitan Police of London was on alert ahead of today’s major anti-Indian government protest in London. The special adviser of Prime Minister Imran Khan on overseas Pakistanis, Zulfi Bukhari, had earlier appealed to the diaspora to observe August 15 as ‘Black Day’.
As part of appeal of Bukhari, it has been requested by the overseas Pakistanis to hold protests outside Indian embassies in their respective countries in order to show solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir.
A spokesperson of Scotland Yard had said on Tuesday that the forces were aware of the planned protest at noon on 15 August and had security arrangements in place. While the reports from Intelligence had suggested that the number of protestors would be in thousands, police refused to discuss the number of officers on duty.
However, it has been revealed by a source that more than 200 police officers would be on duty in order to maintain the crowd and prevent any road blockings and clashes.
The protest of 15 August was said to be joined by the diaspora from all political parties, uniting them for the issue of Kashmir. Secular Indian organisations along with two pro-Khalistan Sikh groups had also announced their plan to attend the protest.
In a statement, Bukhari had said that it was a moral obligation of everyone to speak up for the Kashmiri brothers and sisters living in the challenging circumstances under the Nazi-like regime of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On the other hand, Pro-Modi Indian groups had initially announced to hold a counter-demonstration but after realising that pro-Kashmir protestors would be huge in numbers and things could spiral out of control, they changed their plans.