Jaishankar flags pro-Khalistan extremism during meeting with UK leaders: ‘Misuse of freedom…’

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar raised India’s “long-standing concerns” regarding pro-Khalistan extremism while attending a meeting with UK Home Secretary James Cleverly and National Security Adviser (NSA) Tim Barrow. The external minister also urged the UK’s top leaders to be on guard for the misuse of freedom of expression and speech.

In the meeting, Jaishankar said, “We have long-standing concerns about extremist and sometimes even violent activities of various forces, including those who propagate Khalistan.”

“We have been trying to get the government here to understand that while we, as a fellow democracy, certainly understand the importance of freedom of expression, and of speech, they should be on guard against the misuse of these freedoms,” he was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.

Jaishankar further referred to the violent protests at India House in March and said the “gravity of the situation is sharply recognised”.

He also spoke about the safety of Indian diplomats in the UK. He reportedly said India expects that its diplomatic mission would be provided requisite protection to conduct their activities in an unrestricted way and there would be a “firm stance against the advocacy of violence and extremism”.

Meanwhile, Jaishankar and UK’s Home Secretary Cleverly “exchanged views on addressing extremism, trans-border crimes including economic offences and trafficking,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a press release on Thursday.

Jaishankar’s statement came as India’s diplomatic ties with Canada remains strained over the killing of pro-Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had alleged the involvement of India’s “agents” in the killing of the Sikh separatist leader on the Canadian soil in June this year. Indian dismissed the allegations and called them “absurd”. 

Jaishankar concluded his five-day visit to the UK on Wednesday. He was on an official visit to the UK from November 11-15, 2023. He called on UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and held talks with his new counterpart, Foreign Secretary David Cameron. He also met Secretary of State for Home James Cleverly, Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps and National Security Adviser Tim Barrow.

What else Jaishankar discussed during the UK visit?

Sunak and Jaishankar reviewed the implementation of Roadmap 2030 and discussed the negotiations for an India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as stated in a press release by the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday.

Jaishankar described his visit as “timely” after a series of cross-party engagements amid “substantial progress” on the ongoing free trade agreement negotiations.

The external affairs minister met Foreign Secretary Cameron on his first day in office and congratulated him on his appointment. “They discussed avenues to realize the full potential of India-UK partnership in avenues ranging from cooperation in political, economic and trade, defence and security, science and technology, innovation, health, education, people-to-people connections and mobility,” the MEA press release said.

The two leaders also exchanged views on important global developments including the Indo-Pacific, the situation in West Asia, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“​The visit further consolidated the long-standing historical ties between the two countries and provided a new impetus to bilateral cooperation in diverse areas against the backdrop of progress on the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and Roadmap 2030,” the press release said.

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Updated: 16 Nov 2023, 06:53 PM IST

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