London: On 3 September, the High Commission India in London experienced further violence. Protestors carrying Pakistan Occupied Kashmir flags broke a window after marching from Parliament Square to Aldwych; before leaving Westminster the protestors stuck a PoK flag into the folded hands of the Gandhi statue. Kashmir and Pakistan “leaders” carried pictures of Yasin Malik and were accompanied by Labour MP Liam Byrne, also standing for West Midlands Metro Mayor. Byrne claims that the Article 370 revocation was a “very clear breach of the Instrument of Accession”. In his new polemic, it’s “time for the British government to press for a multilateral path to justice for the people of Kashmir”.
In Parliament MPs discussed “Kashmir” and its former special status. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Dominic Raab expressed concern for internationally recognised human rights to be respected and complied with. Raab said it was an international issue.
Shailesh Vara, Conservative MP, tried to halt the conversation and asked if Raab would “confirm that the violence and abuse targeted towards the British Indian community on that occasion (15 August) are completely unacceptable”. Raab responded: “Any violence is deplorable. It should not be conducted in this country, or anywhere else for that matter, against any individual communities.”
Bob Blackman told this reporter after the session ended: “I am shocked by the official stance taken by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in relation to Jammu and Kashmir.
“This issue is one which is bilateral and the Parliament of the United Kingdom is supposed to stand up for human rights and protect minorities. Article 370 discriminated against women and minority religions—I made this point to the Foreign Secretary—and yet the government of the United Kingdom cannot bring itself to support the move.
“Instead, we have terrifying anti-Hindu and anti-India sentiment creeping into parliamentary exchanges and sustained intimidation and attacks outside the Indian High Commission. Understandably, the UK diaspora feels threatened and failed by authorities and I stand with them.”
The following day in the House of Commons, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, UK’s only turbaned MP, tried to ingratiate himself to Jeremy Corbyn by referring to an article that Boris Johnson had written in 2018 in which he attacked the subjugation of Muslim women. Johnson was advocating the liberalisation of women, which included eschewing the burkha, which Dhesi took to be derogatory and racist. He demanded an enquiry into Islamophobia. Dhesi said he had grown up being called “towelhead” whilst others were called “Taliban”. It has since been remarked that Dhesi, born in 1978, grew up in the 1980s, before the Taliban came into existence in the mid 90s. Thus his furious rant lost credibility.
Meanwhile, France conducted a masterclass in diplomacy. Exiting his posting, the French ambassador tweeted: “I fell in love with India’s rich diversity. Perhaps an Indian in a past life, I’ll be one in my next!” And during his four-city visit to India President Emmanuel Macron said what he liked about India was the “culture, myth and I love Mahabharata and the Bhagwat Gita”.
And the BBC insists on still calling Jammu and Kashmir “Indian occupied Kashmir”!