This Independence Day was special for India since it was the first time it was truly one, in spirit, law and form, with the recent abrogation of Article 370 (all clauses except clause 1) and Article 35-A. It has been a momentous decision. However, as an aftermath of this decision, a rather intense experience happened at today’s event at the Indian High Commission, where Indians in the UK had assembled peacefully to celebrate the 73rd Indian Independence Day. I was invited to speak but the turn of events and aggression displayed by some during the event was such that it became impossible to even remain in the venue after a point.
The event was planned near the famous Nehru statue and for hours, not only did people who made clear, by their flags and slogans, that they were Azad Kashmir, Pakistani and Khalistani supporters besiege us on both sides (for nearly three hours) but also threw eggs, tomatoes and bottles at women, elders and men alike.
The good part, however, was that everyone who remained stood their ground till the very end. We were finally rescued by a riot police squad and the Indian high commission who felt it was too unsafe for Indian nationals to remain outside. Police reports said that nearly 5000 protesters had turned up, in contrast to a much smaller number on the Indian side. Not only that, except for a couple of stray cases, no one hit back at the protesters with any projectile even after being hit a number of times, truly presenting a firm but peaceful position
The Indian High Commissioner Ms. Ruchi Ghanshyam ended the event with a moving speech appreciating the efforts and bravery of all those stood for their country in the face of such intense opposition, aggression and violence. Two Khalistani protesters were briefly handcuffed and frisked. It was with pleasure that I was on the front lines till the very end and helped Marshall the people into safety with others, when the High Commission sought to bring them in.