Hundreds of Indians living in the UK protested outside the High Commission of Pakistan in London on Saturday, against the Pulwama attack, which claimed lives of 40 CRPF jawans in Kashmir. Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibility for the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
Waving the Indian flag, people flocked with placards saying #Jaibharat, chanting “Pakistan Murdabad”, “Vande Mataram”, “Kashmir humara hain”. The protest was joined by the supporters and members of Overseas Friends of BJP.
Dogra-origin, 41 year old Manu Khujaria stood with a microphone and said how families of soldiers in different parts of India are waiting for their father, brother, husband to come back home...She went on to speak in Hindi, “No to terrorism. We have tolerated Pakistan radicalising our youths- we have tolerated enough. Globally every nation should declare Pakistan as a terrorist nation.”
UK government ministers and a number of British MPs took to social media or issued statements to condemn the terror strike. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Twitter wrote, “Shocked by today's senseless and brutal act of terror in...Kashmir. I offer my sincere condolences to the victims' families. We stand with India."
Tory MP and leader of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Hindus, Bob Blackman, said, “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the service people who died and I wish those recovering a swift return to full health. We stand with India at this time of crisis and should offer our full support to India in action to combat this terrorist atrocity.
“It should clearly be understood that the entirety of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, having opted to join India on independence in 1947. It is a sad fact that terrorism has emanated from across the line of control where the Pakistani military illegally occupies a sovereign part of India. Pakistan has shown a complete disregard to preventing these terrorist groups from operating across the line of control.
“This attack is cowardly, despicable and beyond comprehension.
“The international community, including the United Kingdom, must support India in the face of this ongoing aggression and outright terror and take action to isolate, proscribe and bring the terrorists to justice.
“Jihadist movements must be dealt with and quashed and any nations harbouring these groups should face consequences.”
Indian-origin Opposition Labour Party MP Virendra Sharma condemned the attack and called on the UK government to reconsider the reference to "India-administered Kashmir".
"I was pleased to see the British Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, has offered his sincere condolences to the victims' families, and stated that 'we stand with India', but I am concerned that he used the phrase 'India-administered Kashmir'," he said.
Sharma said he has written to the Foreign Secretary to reiterate that Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian state and has been since it formally acceded in 1947.
Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London and Chair of the Labour Friends of India said, “We stand in solidarity with the people of India and send our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who were brutally murdered.”
On the other hand a comment by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has infuriated the local community, when he mentioned that the party stood with the people of ‘Kashmir’ (not India) and would offer a political resolution, if they come to power in the UK. He wrote, “I'm alarmed by the violence that killed 44 people in Kashmir. Labour Party sends condolences to families who lost loved ones. We stand with the people of Kashmir and in government we will work towards negotiations and a political resolution.”
The Labour Party had the resolution of issues in Kashmir as one of their agenda in the 2015 election manifesto.
Asian Voice wrote to the Labour Friends of India, asking if the Labour party is moving away from 'the sentiments of Indians'. During the recent visit of the Pakistan Foreign Minister, the Azad Kashmir group had organised an event in House of Commons. An anti-India event, it was attended by Labour MP Tan Dhesi among others.
An angry Dr Rami Ranger, who is an entrepreneur and the Chair of the Conservative Friends of India wrote, “You should be standing with the people of India as those killed in cold blood were from every part of India,” aiming at Mr Corbyn.
Foreign Office minister for Asia Tariq Ahmad met Indian high commissioner Ruchi Ghanshyam and conveyed condolences over the Pulwama deaths, adding, “India is a key partner for the UK across trade, security and culture.”
Tom Tugendhat, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, said, “I’m deeply saddened by the terrorist attack in Kashmir. Thoughts are with the Indian security personnel killed and injured by this appalling crime.”
Community stands by India
Trupti Patel, President, Hindu Forum of Britain in a statement said, “We have witnessed that Pakistan over the past few decades has become accustomed to harbouring terrorist, terror groups and terror training camps. Countless cross-border attacks have taken place and it is clear to many across the globe that Pakistan has now in effect become a terrorist state. As a nation we have had a number of terror attacks with loss of many lives and injury to countless others. We have suffered as a nation at the hands of such terror groups. We therefore understand the pain and sorrow of the people of India, and we stand united in this their time of grief...
“The international community has made many gestures, but they remain mere gestures whilst Pakistan continues on its path of terrorism. The time has come for all good people and nations across the globe not only to condemn Pakistan, but to take proactive action to isolate this terrorist state...At this time in the 21st Century, let Britain lead the world and show that when it comes to terrorism, enough is enough. We ask you to galvanise the international community in support of PM Modi and the People of India, and to take practical action that will get to the root of the terror issue...I hope and trust that I will secure your full support.”
OFBJP (UK) condemning the attack in a statement said, “Pakistan has miserably failed in its attempt to forcibly snatch the Jammu & Kashmir from India after getting defeated in three wars; but has continued to support and fund the low intensity war against India by using the Islamic terrorists, who roam freely in Pakistan...Overseas Friends of BJP (UK) demands that Pakistan stop this overt and covert support to terrorists operating from its soil; and warns that it would be solely responsible for any retaliatory action taken by India.”
Indian journalist attacked
Radhika Iyer, NDTV correspondet in the UK was mobbed at the protest outside Pakistan High Commission, because she represented NDTV, which is labelled as 'anti-Modi', and therefore 'anti-national' in India.
In a social media post, a pain-stricken Iyer wrote, “As a journalist, you can well imagine how unpredictable, challenging and emotionally very taxing some days at work can be. Like for anyone else in their own work place. I have been reporting for the last 14 and a half years. Much of it in broadcast journalism as you know. During terror blasts, tsunami, cyclone, air crash, train accidents, political crisis, during day, during night, weekends, festivals, during the week of my wedding, during treatment for cancer. Today though was particularly challenging. And hurtful.
“I was at a protest march by some Indians in London against the gruesome terror attack in J&K in India. I was among the first to reach and started filming on my phone. I interviewed some people, then recorded visuals. When suddenly the crowd cornered me. Hooted me for being associated with NDTV. One lady said ‘you cannot be here’. One man said ‘ if you are an Indian, then say bharat mata ji jai ‘- the rest kept bullying and shouting slogans whenever I started to film, preventing me from doing my job.
“This was a protest by Indians and people of Indian origin. Against terrorism. Even against Pakistan. When suddenly in the middle of it, the focus was on me and the media channel I am associated with. I felt cornered, vulnerable and isolated amidst so many of my own- fellow Indians! some who are well known to me...If you don’t like Ndtv- don’t watch it, or don’t give an-interview. If you want to raise concerns, speak to me or ask me who you should be writing to if it is not my report you have an objection to. why stop a person from doing his/her job?
“...I am fine now and back at work! For most time though- I stood there as an Indian, feeling absolutely helpless and let down by my fellow Indians for simply being there to do my job. I stood alone - as a woman, a journalist, an Indian - on duty.”
Patriotism and nationalism are two entirely different things. India is a democracy- and freedom of thought and speech are an integral part of the country. Radhika who was doing her job- was attacked for representing a media channel for a country, where 'freedom of free spech' and 'freedom of press' still exist. While we take pride in calling ourselves as Indians on British soil, waving the Indian flag and chanting our country's name- beating our chest, attacking someone for doing her job as a journalist, or for thinking differently as an Indian or as a woman- is neither patriotic nor an example of a true Indian.