LONDON: India’s High Commission in London said Saturday it had reported a “disgraceful incident” involving a top diplomat being confronted by protesters at a Sikh temple in Glasgow to police and Britain’s Foreign Office.
The incident comes as India’s relations with Sikh communities overseas are under the spotlight due to criticism of New Delhi’s arrest and alleged torture of a Sikh blogger from Scotland, as well as accusations of its involvement in the fatal shooting of a Sikh separatist in Canada.
India’s diplomatic mission in London said that Vikram Doraiswami, its High Commissioner to the UK, had been invited to the Sikh temple, or gurdwara, in Scotland’s biggest city on Friday to discuss community and consular issues.
But it said he was confronted on arrival by three people described as “non-local extremist elements” who tried to “violently force open” the vehicle he was travelling in.
The diplomat left the scene without going ahead with the visit, according to the commission.
The allegation prompted junior UK foreign minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan to say she was “concerned”.
“The safety and security of foreign diplomats is of utmost importance and our places of worship in the UK must be open to all,” she said on X, formerly Twitter.
However, a Scottish Sikh group said on social media that “misinformation & fake news has been spread regarding a peaceful & legal protest objecting to @VDoraiswami holding an official visit at #GlasgowGurdwara”.
Uk home to 500,000 Sikhs
The Sikhs in Scotland national advocacy charity added that the diplomat had “remained safely in his car at all times” and that “he chose to drive away from the Gurdwara and did not stay to answer Sikh community’s legitimate concerns”.
Police Scotland confirmed it had been alerted to reports of a disturbance at the gurdwara at lunchtime on Friday, according to UK media.
“There were no reports of any injuries and enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances,” a spokesperson said in a reported statement.
The UK is home to some 500,000 Sikhs, including a sizeable community in Scotland.
They have campaigned in recent years over the case of Jagtar Singh Johal, a Sikh blogger from Scotland.
He has been held in detention in India for five years, accused of being part of a terror plot against right-wing Hindu leaders and has been charged with conspiracy to murder.
Meanwhile, relations between India and Canada have plunged since Ottawa publicly linked Indian intelligence to the killing in June of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who advocated a separate Sikh state carved out of India.