A group of pro-Khalistan protesters on Monday gathered outside the High Commission of India here, waving anti-India placards and chanting slogans amid strong Scotland Yard presence.
The protest, which was promoted by British Sikh groups on social media, was organised to draw attention to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations last month of alleged Indian involvement in the killing of wanted terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.
The allegation has been strongly rejected by the Ministry of External Affairs as “absurd and motivated”.
“Sikhs will raise domestic issues, including the suspicious death of activist Bhai Avtar Singh Khanda,” reads the call for Monday’s protest.
There were several uniformed Metropolitan Police officers on guard and patrolling on foot outside India House, which was cordoned off to restrict the small group of turbaned men and some women opposite the building outside Waldorf Hotel at Aldwych in central London.
Several police vehicles also patrolled the area throughout the roughly two-hour-long demonstration during which the protesters made speeches in Punjabi and raised pro-Khalistan slogans.
Earlier on Monday, the Sikh Federation (UK) organised a press conference in London to announce a formal request being submitted to the Chief Coroner for England and Wales to open an inquest into the death of Avtar Singh Khanda, a pro-Khalistan UK-based Sikh activist who died in Birmingham in June.
“Given the timing of Khanda’s death, and the fact that death threats had been made by those with connections to Indian politics before his death, his case is at the very least suspicious,” said Michael Polak, the family’s barrister.
Following speculation around the 45-year-old’s passing earlier this year, the local West Midlands Police had stated that there were “no suspicious circumstances” surrounding the death. The official cause of death post-mortem was stated as acute leukaemia or blood cancer.
Earlier on Saturday, pro-Khalistan extremists blocked the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Vikram Dorwaiswami, from entering a gurdwara in Glasgow. The Indian mission dubbed the incident “disgraceful” before reporting it to the UK government.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the High Commission of India in London said that three people from outside Scotland “deliberately disrupted” the visit on Friday evening, and one even attempted to violently force open the diplomatic vehicle as senior diplomats arrived at Glasgow Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib on Albert Drive.
As they hurled threats and abuses, the High Commissioner (HC) and Consul General of India (CG) decided to leave the premises to avert any further altercation.
“On September 29, 2023, three persons — all from areas outside Scotland — disrupted a planned interaction organised by the Gurdwara Committee for the community, the High Commissioner (HC) and the Consul General of India (CG),” said the High Commission of India statement.