Condemning plans to hold an anti-India march in London on the Kashmir issue on Diwali next Sunday, Mayor Sadiq Khan has said it would deepen divisions in the United Kingdom (UK) capital and called on the organisers and prospective participants to cancel the protest rally.
Metropolitan Police reported details on the permissions sought for the proposed march; an estimated 5,000-10,000 protesters plan to commence their march from Richmond Terrace near Downing Street and converge outside the Indian High Commission in London.
"I absolutely condemn the plans for a protest march to take place on the auspicious day of Diwali, in the vicinity of the Indian High Commission in London. This march will only deepen divisions at a time when Londoners need to come together. That is why I am calling on those organising the march and all those considering taking part in it to think again and cancel their plans,” said the Pakistan-origin London Mayor in response to a letter by Indian-origin London Assembly member Navin Shah.
He said that his City Hall office would be working with Scotland Yard to ensure a robust policing plan was in place if the march goes ahead.
In response to Shah's request to consider seeking permission to ban the protest due to public disorder fears, he added, “As you know, the power to ban marches of this nature lies solely with the Home Secretary, not with me as the Mayor of London. I am copying this letter to both the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, so they can clearly see the extent of my concerns about this march.”
Shah, in his letter, recalled the violent clashes outside the Indian mission on August 15 between diaspora groups marking Independence Day and British Pakistani and separatist groups.
The latest letter exchange over the issue of Kashmir in the UK comes as Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to another letter issued by 100 British-Indian organisations condemning the party's stance on Jammu and Kashmir. Corbyn in his response refused to amend or take back the resolution passed by his party regarding the “human rights crisis” in Kashmir.
He repeated his previous acknowledgement that some of the language used in an emergency motion passed by Opposition party last month could be misinterpreted, both in India and among the Indian diaspora, but stood by the party's view that it remains gravely concerned at the ongoing situation in Kashmir.