New Delhi (Reuters) – India on Wednesday asked Britain for increased monitoring of UK-based supporters of a Sikh separatist movement following a “breach of security” at its High Commission in London, an incident that has raised tension between the two countries.
At a meeting in New Delhi between senior British and Indian home ministry officials, the Indian side “specifically conveyed its concerns on the misuse of UK’s asylum status by the Pro-Khalistani elements to aid and abet terrorist activities in India and requested better cooperation with UK,” an Indian government statement said.
New Delhi has been upset with Britain after protesters carrying “Khalistan” banners last month detached the Indian flag from the diplomatic mission’s building to protest against recent police action in India’s Punjab state against a Sikh separatist leader. The incident comes as the two countries are trying to strike a deal on a delayed free trade agreement.
Similar protests and vandalism were seen outside Indian missions in some places in the United States and Canada. Khalistan refers to an independent Sikh state sought by separatists, but which does not exist.
Police in Punjab, where Sikhs are in the majority, launched a hunt for separatist leader Amritpal Singh last month after he revived talk of an independent homeland.
His comments raised concerns of a return to the separatist violence of the 1980s and early 1990s that killed tens of thousands of people.
Sikh separatists claim the action against Singh is unjustified.
Britain’s Foreign Minister, James Cleverly, said last month the country would review security at the Indian High Commission in London following “unacceptable acts of violence” towards its staff.