The links from Britain to India are strong. For good. Some us have spent decades building them. Last week, I was at the Indian High Commission in London hosting the commemoration of the birth of Sardar Patel.
In the audience were Lord Paul, who chaired the UK India Roundtable to advise the then Labour Prime Minister on policies to bring the two countries together. That’s when a Labour leader wanted closer ties with India as opposed to openly criticizing the world’s largest multi-faith democracy. I was a member of the UK-India Roundtable.
Also present was Lord Rami Ranger. At this event on unity, he knows from personal experience the cost of lives after partition and disunity.
Lord Bilimoria, who as founding Chairman of UK India Business Council ensured a close and growing trade relationship between the countries and I served on the Council during Karan’s tenure and beyond. Lord Loomba was present, and his Loomba Trust supports widows and orphans especially in India. Again, I am privileged to be Co-Chair with Lord Bilimoria of the charity.
Don’t think the event was only for those with titles. Also present were Navin Shah (London Assembly Member) and the former Mayor of Harrow – both of whom spoke to me about their concerns that as Labour Party members, there is a danger the antipathy to Labour by British Indians could hurt British Indian Labour politicians. A problem indeed for the Labour Party.
But, the event was about unity – after all it commemorated Sardar Patel – the man who made India. And CB Patel who convened the largest collection of British Indian organisations ever to condemn Labour Party interference in Kashmir, in Parliament last month, spoke as Chair of the Sardar Patel Memorial Society.
However, on disunity, never have I in the 25 years since working in the US Congress against Indian separatists from ‘Khalistan’ have seen such a resurgence of separatists working against India. Never have I seen them so openly join common cause with Pakistani backed Kashmiris. Their numbers are miniscule, hence why violence is something they turn too.
As we enter the election period, I fully support our temples, mosques, churches, gurdwaras being centres for the community to speak on political matters – within the legal constraints of the Charity Commission. Do not let someone curtail your free speech by claiming such community organisation should be kept silent at election time. Those wanting to silence you will be the ones who want to silence the majority they disagree with.
But, bewarned. There are more candidates than I have ever seen who support hate speech, make those speeches at places of worship, raise funds there too, and support the twin separatist causes of Pakistan – Kashmir and Khalistan. These will bring their hate to Parliament. Their division.
The Indian High Commission was attacked because it represents the values of India and indeed Britain – values hated by separatists. These militants who turn to violence because they cannot muster followers, hate religions living together, they hate liberalism and gender equality. The world does not need another theocracy.