Eye-Witness Account: Defending The Indian High Commission In ‘Londonistan’ On 15 August

by Eyes Wide Open - Aug 25, 2019 07:55 PM +05:30 IST
Eye-Witness Account: Defending The Indian High Commission In ‘Londonistan’ On 15 August Scene outside the Indian High Commission on 15 August
  • Pakistani and Pakistan-supported protestors tried to violently disrupt the Independence Day celebrations at the Indian High Commission in London.

    Here is an eye-witness account of the events as they unfolded at ground zero.

While India celebrated its 72nd Independence Day, its first as a truly integrated nation post Article 370, the Indian diaspora in London saw Pakistan's 5th generation warfare first hand.

A handful of Indians celebrating Independence day (half of whom were women and children), were viciously attacked by 5,000 protestors at the Indian High Commission in London.

During a 4-hour long assault, we held our ground and probably saved the Indian High Commission by our stand.

Here is my front-row account of the events.

Thursday, 15 August, was a bright sunny day, a luxury in the UK. Setting off for the festivities early in the morning, a part of me was hoping it would rain heavily.

It was common knowledge that 5,000-6,000 protestors were being bussed from all over the UK and I felt the rain would dampen their arrangements a bit. But Surya Deva shone brightly. It seemed he wanted us to prove our mettle.

The celebrations were to start at 12 PM but I arrived at the High Commission at 11 AM and noticed there was not a single Indian or policeman. But I counted four Pakistani scouts and a suspicious vehicle parked right in front of the side gate of the High Commission.

The Indian High Commission is situated in the heart of London and has two main roads at its front and back. At its left wall there is a rectangle of about 10 m x 20 m with Nehru's statue at its centre. Another building used by the High Commission forms its second wall.

Its front and back give way to pavements which are bounded by the two main roads.

This small rectangle is part of the High Commission and India's sovereign territory. It also has the side entrance to the consular wing of the High Commission. With a width of just 10 m it can easily be blocked from the front and back and made into a small killing zone.

This is exactly what happened a couple of hours later.

The Pakistanis started arriving in droves from 11.30 am onwards.

They first started protesting at the front gates. There were 10 to 15 ringleaders who coordinated the entire plan. Everyone else was well briefed and well trained.

At around 12 PM they made their first tactical move, blocking off the entire front road and trying to attack us from the left flank. There was a sudden surge and deliberate attempts to break the barriers, which did break.

The Indians were trying to defend the barriers as there were hardly any police and those that were there were totally ineffective and unresponsive.

I spoke to the senior police officers on the scene four times requesting them to bring reinforcements and to guard the rear because encirclement was a real danger. There was no response from the police apart from forcing us to move back into the rectangle at 1.30 PM.

This was the wrong move as it showed weakness and the attacks intensified. A handful of mounted police were brought in but they could not hold the line.

The Pakistanis then executed phase two of their plan and went round the buildings to encircle us from behind where there were no police to protect us. So we were boxed in by 3,000 Pakistanis in front and 2,000 behind and the walls of the Indian High Commission on both sides.

Indian strength was about 250 with roughly 50 per cent women and children.

Our friends were in their element - extremely abusive, violent and using unrepeatable foul language. A continuous barrage of  'Modi kutta' and 'We will rape all Hindu women' on their megaphones were some of their milder abuses. I won't insult the sensibility of the readers by recounting more.

They were making lewd gestures and hitting the women and children with stones, frozen water bottles, frozen potatoes. Freezing helps make these objects hard and when thrown with force it causes injuries. And that's exactly what happened.

Almost everyone was hit including women and children, who were their preferred targets. Many were injured and some were beaten black and blue as the protestors broke through the defences at a couple of places. But we pushed them back.

They also tried to burn the Indian flag but incompetent as ever could not manage this. In frustration, they they tore it into four parts but they had not reckoned with Poonam Joshi of ANI, Gampa Venugopal and Kiran Panusuri who audaciously recovered it.

Meanwhile I had spotted two infiltrators who had come into our lines and were heading for our children. I immediately pushed them out. This led to a frank exchange of views with two of the ringleaders who were of the opinion that as 'Mard-e-Momins' they had a duty to kill 'kafirs' in line with their age-old policy of 'ghazwa-e-hind'.

Another insight was 'You drink gau mootra and we eat cows so we are superior and we will always beat you. Why did you take a panga with us ?'. I unfortunately could not continue this pleasant and frank exchange of views as the line was breaking at another place and I had to go to reinforce it. The protestors in this sector were targeting children and women again.

The police were inadequate and unequal to the task through out the day. There about 10-15 to start with and 50 later. At least 300 were needed and despite us asking for more several times they kept their strength well below what was necessary. They did not react to the developing situation and could not protect us.

The IHC was also completely unprepared and unable to help as all High Commission entrances were occupied by the Khalistani and Pakistani groups. If the High Commission had opened their doors to help us these murderous protestors would have rushed inside.

In effect we were protecting the High Commission which actually gave us a lot of josh. I must say that morale and josh was high throughout and a special mention of the many wonderful Indian ladies who were at the forefront of the defence lines. As embodiments of Shakti, they stood steadfast and bore the brunt of the attack not giving an inch. My pranaams to their fortitude.

It was Rakshabandhan as well and one of them tied rakhi to me on the spot in middle of the battle. My eyes became a little moist. My pranaams also to the fortitude of the primarily old men and women there. They stood their ground like Angad in Ravan's court. Nothing could shake them. It was this thin line of Indians who kept 5,000 violent protestors at bay for nearly 4 hours.

At around 4 PM the Indian High Commissioner managed to get additional Riot Police.

Their arrival was greeted by cheers and they managed to push the protestors back enough from the High Commission's private property i.e., India's soverign soil, to allow us to enter the High Commission.

Women, children and elders entered first. We were given a warm welcome, a meal and water. I could have done with an ice-cold beer though.

We sung the national anthem and Vande Mataram and made a pledge to come to support India a thousand times if needed. The feeling was that if our soldiers can take bullets for us, surely we can take a few bottles, eggs and missiles.

The message to the Indian Government and PM Modi was unanimous - press on regardless and don't stop till we get Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. We are with you 100 per cent !

The second part of this series will examine the security gaps at the IHC, geopolitical aspects of these events and what lessons India needs to learn to get ready for 5th generation warfare.

Pakistan has always engaged in asymmetric warfare and has now moved to 5th generation warfare where every citizen has been weaponised and the whole world is a  battlefield.

We need to understand this and to build capabilities to respond.

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