LONDON (AP) Windows were smashed at the Indian High Commission in London and two security guards were slightly injured during a demonstration by Sikh protesters, police said Monday.
London’s Metropolitan Police said a man was arrested on suspicion of causing a violent disturbance outside the diplomatic mission on Sunday afternoon.
Footage posted on social media showed a man removing the Indian flag from the balcony of the building while a crowd appeared below waving bright yellow “Khalistan” banners to cheer him on.
They are believed to be supporters of the Sikh separatist movement, which seeks to establish a new homeland or separatist state.
Police said officers were called but the protesters were largely dispersed when they arrived.
An investigation was launched and a man nearby was arrested shortly thereafter on suspicion of violent disorder. Investigations are continuing, the force said.
The Indian government said it had summoned British Deputy High Commissioner Christina Scott in New Delhi to demand an explanation.
“India finds the UK government’s indifference to the security of Indian diplomatic premises and personnel in the UK unacceptable,” the Indian government said in a statement.
The incident in London came a day after police in the Indian state of Punjab launched a manhunt for Amritpal Singh, a separatist leader who supports the Khalistan movement for a separate Sikh homeland. The Press Trust of India news agency reported that his supporters staged protests in a Sikh-majority state over the weekend and 112 people were arrested.
Punjab remained on high alert on Monday as police resumed their search for Singh, whom they accuse of inciting communal tensions.
The Khalistan movement is banned in India, where officials and affiliated groups see it as a threat to national security. But the movement still has some support in the state, as well as abroad, in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom that have large Sikh diasporas.
On Monday, at least 200 Sikh protesters affiliated with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party held demonstrations outside the British High Commission in New Delhi over the incident in London. The protesters, who said they were also demonstrating against insulting the Indian flag, tried to demonstrate inside the British Embassy but were stopped by the police.
Some people who wear the cover of Sikhism are trying to create the impression that we support Khalistan. We are against Khalistan. We don’t want Khalistan,” said Arvinrpal Singh, one of the protesters.
British Foreign Secretary Tariq Ahmed said he was “appalled” by the violence in London.
“This is a completely unacceptable measure against the integrity of the Mission and its staff,” he wrote on Twitter. “The UK government will always take the security of the Indian Legation very seriously.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemned the “violent unrest and vandalism”.
“There is no place in our city for this kind of behavior,” he said.
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