Saturday, December 10, 2022
HomeOpinionUK leaders not countering anti-India wave enough, but British Indians showing resilience

UK leaders not countering anti-India wave enough, but British Indians showing resilience

As India continues to ease restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, India’s well-wishers in the UK will be in a more comfortable position.

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When Katie Hopkins, a British pro-India activist, walked into a pro-Pakistan Muslim (mostly male) protest in London this week and asked the protesters some tough questions, she was abused and threatened. The Metropolitan Police did not do enough to stop several moves by pro-Pakistan, anti-India protesters in the last few months. And this was not the first instance of their insensitivity towards the Indian community in the UK.

Refusal to learn lessons

Take the case of the incident at the Indian High Commission in London on 15 August. Hundreds of British-Indians, including women and young children, were peacefully celebrating India’s Independence when they were surrounded by anti-India protesters – some of them hurling stones and eggs at the people and the building. I too received several calls from people under threat for help. Thanks to the timely intervention of high commission officials who took them inside the building, a major crisis was averted. Most from the Labour Party as well as London Mayor Sadiq Khan remained silent.

Undeterred, anti-India protesters marched again in early September, breaking glass windows of the Indian High Commission. They raised slogans on Kashmir. Again, the Met Police did not act as it should have and only arrested two people.

The question remains why authorities refused to learn lessons and allowed the protests.

In India, police authorities would never allow protesters in such close vicinity of any foreign embassy, and rightly so.

Only after strong complaints by the Indian embassy and the Ministry of External Affairs did the UK ban pro-Pakistan and Kashmir protests near the Indian High Commission that were scheduled for Diwali. Even PM Boris Johnson had to weigh in.

Also read: Several European parliamentarians visiting Kashmir are from Right-wing, anti-Islam parties

Anti-India politics

On the political front, the Labour Party has become a common platform for all anti-India people, liberals and Islamists in the UK.

Two years before India scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir through Article 370, Labour MP and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry had already stated that the party would link post-Brexit UK-India trade deal to the Kashmir issue.

The latest resolution of the Labour Party on Kashmir is another example of its anti-India bias. It called for international intervention in the Kashmir issue and UN-led referendum. One major reason is, of course, the changing demography of the UK, especially in England, from where a vast majority of Labour members to the House of Commons get elected. The Muslim population is almost 5 per cent in England, as per the 2011 census. The second reason is of course colonial hangover in parts of the British system, which leads them to think that they still have stakes in India’s internal affairs. Third is self-proclaimed “internationalist” leader of opposition Jeremy Corbyn who has never hidden his dislike for India, even before 5 August.

Also read: How foreign media coverage of Kashmir crisis has become a headache for Modi govt

Resilience of British Indians

Meanwhile, British Indians have shown exceptional resilience against the gang of three: Islamists, Khalistanis and ultra-liberals, with not-so-covert support from the Labour Party to all three. In true Gandhian spirit, British Indians have used the most potent non-violent tool of boycotting anti-India supporters and the Labour resolution. They are persuading a small number of Labour Party members and well-wishers of India to come out in open against the resolution of the party. Close to 100 community organisations showed rare unity for this movement.

Even traditional Diwali visits by Labour leaders to Hindu temples were subdued this year. The heat is being felt by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as well, who initially tried to divide the British-Indian community by meeting insignificant groups like the Indian Overseas Congress and when these attempts failed, reluctantly admitted that the resolution language was “open to misinterpretation”. However, he has not changed his position one bit.

Also read: London mayor condemns anti-India march planned on Diwali, calls for cancellation

As Indian authorities continue to ease restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, India’s well-wishers in the UK will be in a more comfortable position. However, people like Corbyn, Liberal Democrats’ Member of European Parliament Chris Davies (who claimed he was dropped from the MEPs visit to J&K) will continue to oppose India under one pretext or other. Their opposition to India is likely to intensify in coming weeks if the general elections are announced in the UK, as both Labour members and Liberal Democrats would be fighting for a larger pie of the same vote bank.

The post-Brexit scenario will provide a unique opportunity to revisit India-UK relations and strengthen it further. Several new areas of cooperation and coordination can be explored. However, domestic compulsions and ideological opposition to India by a section of the UK’s political leadership is likely to play spoilsport in this process.

The author is In-Charge, Foreign Affairs Dept, Bharatiya Janata Party. Views are personal.

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  1. Why do we waste print space on useless US lap dog and a had been european and what happens there. Close the chapter and forget “Great” Britton.

  2. Mr. Baker and Jeremy Corbyn, British has only managed to make things worse wherever they participate. Remember your colonial past and ongoing Brexit drama. The whole world is laughing at you. Don’t lecture India. We aren’t your colony, get over it! Instead send all the criminals who fled India that you are harboring in your country. You can keep the Pak goons – good luck. Who else wants to be in Britain in any case.

  3. Jeremy Corbyn will now be known as the famous India hater, like general Dias. We didn’t know much of this person earlier. fair enough, 1 Bn Indians will return the favor by hating him too! Let’s make him famous.

  4. The Labour Party has always been against India. Harold Wilson supported Pakistan in the 1965 war. In the 71 war, again their stand was ambiguous. Nothing much has changed even today.
    Brits are naturally duplicitous in nature, lack character, and can never be trusted. They are trying to destroy the EU and now again trying to stir trouble in India. They forget that even today the largest private sector employer in UK are the Tatas.

    We should actively encourage Indian industry to leave UK and relocate to the Continent. And exclude British Govt and private sector from all major defence and civilian contracts.

    They need to be taught a hard lesson

  5. Indians usually don’t use their influence as a voting block as they are more integrated in the country they live in. It is appalling how British Pakistanis are being pandered by the labor party for votes. Surprised to see the labor party is mum when Pakistani community in UK is protesting against inclusion of LGBT rights in school curriculum. Is this liberal values? Labor party is setting a precedence that will come back to haunt them. In any case India has to fight on it’s own. Even though India much more democratic than many countries in the world it seems like power (China) and voting block (British Pakistanis) will have more support in UK. UK hosts all the criminals that has fled India. UK government supported BBC spews venom all the time against India. Ofcourse not everything in India is perfect, like anywhere in the world. Certainly everything is not good in UK! However, it seems like the onus of the problems in the world has to be shouldered by India. Wonder why they have this high handed attitude – does some British still think India is a colony? Please keep away as Indians know you have given us more misery than peace, and looted us for a century. Ofcourse Pakistan is defacto colony of China, US, and UK (aspiring). Don’t mix up Pakistan with India though.

  6. When has India eased the restrictions? Still no internet, sms texting, no protesting , restrictions on movement(nothing between 8:00pm and 6:00am). 7,000,000.00 people are in lockdown!

    • You Brits never learn. You are already the laughing stock of Europe, can’t decide whether to stay in EU or exit. But the real fun will start when you are actually out and grovelling to sell your wares to the EU. Rest be assured, the local Pakis you support will bomb your trains and busses again.

    • Where were you when Kashmiri Hindu and other community over 500000 were thrown out of their home and made refugees in their own country, India? This happened in late 80s and early nineties not to far in history. Brits are looters of world in many countries, and remember Indian soldiers fought on your side during WWII on insistence of MK Gandhi. UK Labor partyis subservient to US shows their real independence

  7. Britain’s Labour Party is not fringe, as were the MEPs who visited Kashmir recently. It is as mainstream as the Conservative Party, could come to power on 12th December. So the stance it has taken should be seen as a setback for our diplomacy. What happens on the subcontinent should stay on the subcontinent. Bringing the diaspora into our politics, or using it as a strategic asset for our diplomacy with foreign governments merits reconsideration. People of Indian origin have voluntarily surrendered their Indian passports. Let them enjoy their fish and chips and ale peaceably in a British pub.

    • Again wrong understanding. First generation diaspora or migrant well-qualified permanent residents will always be influencers and instruments of diplomacy irrespective of your wishes or arguments against. It is their choice whether they want to be India’s friends (just like you keep counting India’s enemies) in US and British establishments). As far as the Labour Party is concerned, wait and watch. Don’t be surprised if it is a coalition government. And if Corbyn comes to power on his own, then wait for the Pandora’s box to be opened. Trump and Corbyn won’t get along. Israel will be unhappy and if Corbyn decides to play two-faced communist, extreme liberal punk then his say on Kashmir will be null and void. Till then you keep dreaming and wishing. But do buy burnol for your burns while your keep a watch on international politics sitting in some room.

      • You may like to read Dr Tanvi Madan’s tweets, which are tangentially related to this issue. Some good advice about not getting mixed up with politics abroad.

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