UK government concerned at disruption to Indian diplomat’s Glasgow visit

By David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) -A British government minister expressed concern on Saturday that a visit by a senior Indian diplomat to a Sikh temple in Glasgow had been disrupted by protesters the day before.

“The safety and security of foreign diplomats is of utmost importance and our places of worship in the UK must be open to all,” junior foreign office minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in a post on social media.

Long-standing tensions between some Sikhs and the Indian government have increased since Canada earlier this month linked the killing of a Sikh separatist advocate near Vancouver to Indian government agents – allegations which India has dismissed as “absurd”.

India’s embassy to Britain issued a statement on Saturday saying its top diplomat Vikram Doraiswami and another senior official had been due to meet community leaders at a Sikh gurdwara or place of worship on Friday in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city.

It said three protesters – whom it described as “non-local extremist elements” – threatened its diplomats and one tried to open the door of Doraiswami’s car, prompting the officials to abandon the visit.

A spokesperson for Scotland’s police force said officers had been called to a report of a disturbance near the gurdwara, but there were no injuries. Enquiries were ongoing and no arrests had been made, police added.

“Glasgow Gurdwara strongly condemns such disorderly behaviour to disrupt the peaceful proceedings of a Sikh place of worship,” the religious body said in a statement to media.

Canada and Britain are home to the largest populations of Sikhs outside India, after some Sikhs emigrated to flee violence in the 1970s and 1980s in the Indian state of Punjab that killed thousands.

India complained to Britain earlier this year after Sikh separatists detached the Indian flag from the country’s high commission in central London and called for better security.

(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by David Holmes and Christina Fincher)