London: Twenty protesters were arrested by the London police after a Sikh demonstration outside the Indian Embassy in the British capital turned violent, leaving one policeman injured.
Hundreds of demonstrators from a group called ‘Sikh Lives Matter’ had gathered for a sit-in yesterday protesting the alleged police brutality against Sikhs in Punjab. Initially a peaceful demonstration, the protest turned violent forcing police to cordon off the area around the Indian mission in central London.
The police said they were aware of a “planned demonstration” at Indian High Commission but were forced to take action as the protesters blocked roads causing disruption.
“Whilst it was initially a peaceful protest, the demonstrators blocked the roadway at the Aldwych and caused significant disruption to the central London road network,” the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement.
“Police liaison officers attempted to negotiate with those present, in order to facilitate peaceful protest and minimise the disruption to the public,” it said.
“Additional officers, including those from the Mounted Branch, were mobilised to the area and a small group of protesters became violent towards police,” the statement added.
During the altercation, one police officer suffered a head injury and was taken to hospital. No other persons were reported to be injured, they said.
“There have been 20 arrests – the majority of which have been for affray,” it added.
“The point of the protest today was to raise awareness and show the Indian authorities that Sikhs of the UK stand in solidarity with the community in the Punjab who are suffering at the hands of Indian authorities,” said Jasveer Singh Gill, a spokesperson of the Sikh PA who was present at the spot.
Commercial and educational establishments were affected and transport services disrupted in parts of Punjab last week in response to a bandh called by Sikh outfits against the killing of two youths and police action during protests over alleged desecration of their holy book.