Hindutva supporters, Sikhs clash in London on India’s Independence Day

In this undated photo, police officials can be seen performing their duty after clashes between two groups in Smethwick, UK. — Reuters/File
In this undated photo, police officials can be seen performing their duty after clashes between two groups in Smethwick, UK. — Reuters/File 

LONDON: Two Indian men are seriously injured and getting hospital treatment as a bloody clash broke out between hundreds of Indian men celebrating their country’s Independence Day and a group of around five pro-Khalistan British Sikhs who refused to join the celebrations on the night of 15 August here.

The violence took place outside South Hall, Broadway in West London where hundreds of Indian men were raising slogans in support of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the RSS on the night of 15th August.

The clashes have raised the spectre of communal clashes as it happened last year in Leicester when a Hindutva mob attacked local Muslims and damaged their properties, unleashing five days of violent disturbances.

Video footage showed that a large number of Hindu men were marching outside Broadway in South Hall carrying Indian flags when met by a group of around five Sikhs who were carrying flags of Khalistan. The mob was raising slogans of “Jai Shri Ram” and asked the Sikh men to join but they refused. The mob was also raising slogans in support of extremist Hindu groups RSS and BJP, the ruling Hindutva party. The footage then shows the Hindutva crowd attacking the Sikh men who were chased down the road and assaulted.

An eye witness told this reporter that when put on the ground, the Sikh man used his Kirpan in self-defence after he was assaulted. Two other Sikh men were brutally beaten and are currently being hospitalized. The Hindutva men can be heard asking each other to beat up the Sikhs.

The altercation started when both crowds started waving their flags at one another. This was further instigated when the Hindutva supporters started to advance to the Sikhs despite the requests of the multiple policemen at the scene in order to contain the situation. The Hindutva supporters continued to viciously berate the Sikhs hoping to spark a reaction out of them. The Sikhs were starting to leave at the advice of the police when suddenly a group of Hindutva supporters mercilessly attacked one Sikh. The police had to run and break up the beating.

Speaking to Geo News, a Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed that violent disturbances had taken place on the night of India’s dependence day. The police said they have arrested one man on suspicion of affray. The police stated that they found two men in their 30s had suffered knife injuries.

The police said: “Officers detained a suspect and as they did so a female officer sustained a small cut to her hand. Pava spray was used and the man was detained, with assistance from a member of the public. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and taken into custody. Both victims were taken to hospital, where their conditions were assessed as not life-threatening. The officer did not require hospital treatment.”

Following the incident a Section 35 Dispersal Order was authorised, said the police.

Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, lead for policing in Ealing, said: “I recognise the enormous concern this incident will have caused to the community, in what was an otherwise largely peaceful and celebratory event. I can assure everyone that an investigation to determine what happened is now underway. Our suspect remains in custody and the two victims are in hospital being treated. Their families are aware. 

“This incident also exemplifies the bravery of our officers, who, having been informed of an altercation, then responded without concern for their own safety and were thrust into apprehending a man armed with a knife. Thankfully the injury my officer sustained was not serious, but her welfare is paramount and we will provide her with every support that we can.”


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