Nearly a month after the national flag at the Indian high commission in London was pulled down during a protest by pro-Khalistan activists, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the case to investigate the matter, sources said.
According to inputs, the case was handed over to the NIA by the Counter Terrorism and Counter Radicalisation (CTCR) division of the Ministry of Home Affairs a few days back.
The anti-terror agency registered a First Information Report (FIR) based on the orders of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and began its probe.
The agency took over the case from Delhi Police, which registered an FIR in the matter under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and is currently investigating it.
The MHA took the decision to hand over the case to the NIA following a meeting with UK representatives last week, the sources indicated.
It is learnt that a special team of the NIA, including a Deputy Inspector General rank officer, may visit London “very soon”, said a source privy to the development.
A tricolour flying atop the Indian High Commission in London was grabbed at by a group of protesters waving separatist Khalistani flags and chanting pro-Khalistani slogans on March 19.
The national flag was pulled down during the protest by pro-Khalistani elements. Videos of the incident showed several protesters carrying the yellow and black Khalistan flag and calling for radical Sikh preacher and Khalistan sympathiser Amritpal Singh to be “freed”.
The videos showed one of the protesters clambering onto a balcony and pulling down the Indian flag from a pole at the front of the high commission to cheers from the other men. British policemen arrived on the scene and prevented the protestors from approaching an entrance of the Indian high commission. The protesters shouted slogans and abused Indian officials within, the videos showed.
Centre amended the NIA Act in August 2019, empowering the agency to investigate terror activities against Indians and Indian interests abroad apart from cyber-crimes and human trafficking.
In the fifth India-UK Home Affairs Dialogue held on April 12, India raised concerns on the misuse of the UK’s asylum status by the Pro-Khalistani elements aid and abet terrorist activities here and requested better cooperation with the UK and increased monitoring of UK based Pro-Khalistan Extremists and take appropriate proactive action.
India also pointed out its concerns over the breach of security of the Indian High Commission.
Both sides reviewed the ongoing cooperation and identified further steps that can be taken to explore opportunities and synergies in advancing cooperation in counter-terrorism, cyber security and global supply chains, drug trafficking, migration, extradition, and anti-India activities in the UK including Pro-Khalistan Extremism among other issues.
The Indian delegation was led by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and the UK delegation was led by Permanent Secretary, of Home Office, Sir Matthew Rycroft. The meeting was also attended by other senior officials of both countries.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) last month summoned the UK deputy high commissioner after pro-Khalistan protestors took down the Indian flag at the high commission in London. The pro-Khalistan groups were protesting against the Punjab police’s crackdown on Sikh hardliner Amritpal Singh.