Pro-Khalistan groups stage protest at India House in London

A group of pro-Khalistan protesters on Monday gathered outside the High Commission of India here, waving anti-India placards and chanting slogans amid strong Scotland Yard presence.

The protest, which was promoted by British Sikh groups on social media, was organised to draw attention to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations last month of alleged Indian involvement in the killing of wanted terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.

The allegation has been strongly rejected by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) as “absurd and motivated”.

“Sikhs will raise domestic issues including the suspicious death of activist Bhai Avtar Singh Khanda,” reads the call for Monday’s protest.

There were several uniformed Metropolitan Police officers on guard and patrolling on foot outside India House, which was cordoned off to restrict the small group of turbaned men and some women opposite the building outside Waldorf Hotel at Aldwych in central London.

Several police vehicles also patrolled the area throughout the roughly two-hour-long demonstration during which the protesters made speeches in Punjabi and raised pro-Khalistan slogans.

Earlier on Monday, the Sikh Federation (UK) organised a press conference in London to announce a formal request being submitted to the Chief Coroner for England and Wales to open an inquest into the death of Avtar Singh Khanda, a pro-Khalistan UK-based Sikh activist who died in Birmingham in June.

“Given the timing of Khanda’s death, and the fact that death threats had been made by those with connections to Indian politics before his death, his case is at the very least suspicious,” said Michael Polak, the family’s barrister.

Following speculation around the 45-year-old’s passing earlier this year, the local West Midlands Police had stated that there were “no suspicious circumstances” surrounding the death. The official cause of death post-mortem was stated as acute leukaemia or blood cancer.  

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