Approximately 80-100 pro-Khalistan British Sikhs joined around 50 demonstrators from PoK to protest against the Indian government in the afternoon. The clash happened when they met with a counter-protest by approximately 25 British Indians.
Carrying yellow Khalistan flags, the UK Sikhs, including members of Sikhs for Justice, protested against the life sentences awarded to Ranjit Singh, 29, Surjit Singh, 27, and Arvinder Singh, 29, by a court in Punjab’s Nawanshahr on February 5. They were convicted for possessing pro-Khalistan literature with the intention of inciting people to resort to violence to wage war against India and establish a sovereign state of Khalistan.
The Pakistani Kashmiris carried the PoK flag and held placards saying “Stop killings in Kashmir”. They said they were protesting against “atrocities” carried out by India in Kashmir.
At one point, a group of protesters with orange face masks, believed to be Khalistanis, tore down the Tricolour and stamped on it in the middle of the road, which was objected to by the pro-India group.
“I am sure they were Pakistani Kashmiris as they were carrying Pakistani flags,” said pro-India protester Suresh Mangalagiri. “It was all sponsored by Pakistan. We objected to the Tricolour being stamped on and suddenly a mob (of Kashmiris and Sikhs) with sticks approached us. I got hit on the neck. Several others got hit too. One guy was punched in the face and was left bleeding. One 86-year-old man was there, women were there. What kind of protest was this? We did not fight, they came wearing masks and attacked us. Police were holding them back but they pushed through the police line,” Mangalagiri, who hails from Hyderabad, said.
Videos have emerged showing a group of British Sikhs beating up a British Indian man from the pro-India group and hitting him with a ‘Referendum 2020’ placard. The handful of police present there could not contain the violence.
Soon, more police vans with about 60 officers pulled up and one video shows police surrounding one man and arresting him on the ground.
Raja Sikandar, who hails from Mirpur in PoK, had a different version. He said: “There was an exchange of slogans between the pro-India group and our group, and then some of the pro-India people came rushing towards the Sikhs. A scuffle happened and then the police intervened.”
Sikhs for Justice has written a letter to foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, claiming that the pro-India group “raised hateful slogans” and “carried anti-Sikh placards”. The organisation has claimed that the counter-protest was orchestrated by the Indian high commission.