India raises flag-ripping incident with UK authorities

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LONDON, APR 19,
India has expressed its concerns to U.K. authorities at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after an Indian flag was torn down in Parliament Square, where a protest by supporters of Khalistan and an independent Kashmir took place on Wednesday — the day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bilateral meetings with Britain in London.
A source said that British authorities had responded with an immediate apology for the failure of police, who were present at the scene, to respond swiftly enough and have promised action would be taken, after India raised its concerns almost immediately after the incident on Wednesday afternoon. The flag, which stood alongside 52 others from Commonwealth nations, on Parliament Square ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM), has also been replaced since. The issue of British-based groups supporting separatist movements in India has been a running issue in bilateral relations. Last year, India sent Britain a note verbale over its concerns about a planned rally in Birmingham to commemorate the death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Ahead of CHOGM, and amid news that the rallies were due to take place, India had warned Britain of the potential for disruptive, violent action, a source said.
The rally on Parliament was called by Lord Nazir Ahmed, a Member of the House of Lords who regularly speaks in favour of separatist movements against India.
There are also concerns around the treatment of Loveena Tandon, an India Today Group television correspondent based in London, who was cornered by a group of protesters after expressing her concerns about the treatment of the flag. “I saw several people pulling down the flag and cutting it up with scissors that they had with them,” she told this paper.
Police were forced to intervene to help Ms. Tandon, after she was accosted by a group of protestors, verbally abused and having the phone on which she was filming knocked out of her hand.

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