Four people were arrested by Scotland Yard as scores of protesters gathered outside the Indian High Commission in London for a pre-planned protests and counter-demonstrations as India marked its 73rd Independence Day on Thursday. The situation witnessed a tense exchange between different groups.
The anti-India protest, organised by Pakistani groups and Sikh and Kashmiri separatist outfits, was demarcated with metal barriers from a pro-India demonstration outside India House, during which placard-waving crowds disrupted the flow of traffic and chanted slogans, PTI reported.
As the face-off continued, the day saw incidents of bottle-throwing and stone-pelting. To contain the situation, Scotland Yard officers on duty had to step in and tackle some protestors.
Indians and people of Indian origin gathered outside the Indian High Commission to celebrate the Independence Day were abused and pelted with eggs and water bottles by Pakistan-sponsored protesters, which included separatist Sikhs, news agency IANS reported.
According to the Metropolitan Police, the demonstrations which left one person injured was described as largely peaceful involving a “small number of incidents”.
"The event was largely peaceful but officers did have to react and deal with a small number of incidents as they happened. In total there were four arrests for Section 4 of the Public Order Act, affray, obstruction of police and possession of an offensive weapon," the Metropolitan Police was quoted as saying by PTI.
"Public order trained officers were policing today's demonstration as part of a planned operation. One person was injured during the demonstrations," the statement said.
Earlier, the Met Police had confirmed that it knew about the protestors and had thus made the required policing arrangements, which included stationing officers on foot as well as officers mounted on horses.
As the anti-India protesters raised slogans, the counter-protesters waved the tricolour. The anti-India crowd included the pro-Khalistan Referendum 2020 group, a regular feature outside India House during Independence Day protests over the years.
The crowd of protestors were expected to be much larger in light of the Indian government's move to repeal the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.
Earlier in the day, the Indian High Commission hosted its annual Independence Day celebrations with a flag-hoisting ceremony, with the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Ruchi Ghanashyam, felicitating members of the World Peace Rally, which concluded in London this week after covering 105 cities and a distance of 17,000-km.
Celebrating India’s 73rd Independence Day in London. A rededication to the spirit of service and sacrifice on this day. @HCI_London wishes all Indians at home and abroad a joyous #IndependenceDay Jai Hind!@MEAIndia @PMOIndia @RuchiGhanashyam pic.twitter.com/rN1UJCBYKS— India in the UK (@HCI_London) August 15, 2019
Ghanashyam also greeted the Indian Cricket Association for the Physically Challenged team, which recently beat England to win the Physical Disability World Cricket Series 2019 at Worcester in the West Midlands region of England.
(With inputs from agencies)