UK government expressed regret at burning of Indian flag by separatist groups

Vastavam web: The UK government Monday expressed regret over reports that the Indian flag was burnt during a demonstration by separatist groups outside the Indian High Commission in London on Republic Day. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said it was disappointed that separatist groups had chosen to take such an action, as Scotland Yard confirmed that it was working to establish the exact circumstances around the incident on Saturday.

“We are disappointed that anyone would chose to burn the Indian flag on any day, let alone the celebration of Republic Day, and we regret the upset that this will have caused,” an FCO spokesperson said. A small group of activists from some British Sikh and Kashmiri outfits had gathered outside India House in central London on Saturday to wave placards against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chant anti-India slogans.

Indian officials had confirmed that the Metropolitan Police had been made aware of the planned demonstration, during which some protesters were caught on camera burning the Indian flag.”On Saturday, 26 January a demonstration took place outside India House in Aldwych, WC2. An appropriate policing plan was in place,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

“There were no incidents of note and no arrests. No allegations of crime have been reported. We are aware of a social media video that appears to be from the demonstration outside India House in Aldwych on Saturday, 26 January. We are working to establish the exact circumstances of it,” the statement said. “We are proud to be a country that fiercely protects the rights of individuals to peaceful protest and free speech as essential parts of a vibrant democracy, provided that demonstrators act within the law. We do not condone the burning of national flags, which is deeply offensive to most people,” an FCO spokesperson had said.

In April last year, the Indian government had demanded legal action against those behind a similar desecration of the Indian flag at Parliament Square on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London attended by the Indian prime minister.