With gloves on and mops out, High Commissioner Ruchi Ghanshyam indulged in diplomacy of another kind as she led officials and members of the diaspora in cleaning the premises of the Indian High Commission at London on Saturday. The building was vandalised by Pakistan supporters on September 3 during a protest against New Delhi's decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcate it into two distinct union territories last month.
"This is so hurtful. It's like an attack on our home, our mother, and that's why I'm here to clean it up," said Rashmi Mishra, who resides in London.
Two people have already been arrested by the Metropolitan Police on the basis of CCTV footage that showed protesters throwing eggs, stones and tomatoes at the structure. Inam Ul Haq, a resident of Birmingham, has been identified as the brains behind the demonstration.
"This is India's response. We want to say that we are not intimidated. We always respond to hatred with love," said Ms Ghanshyam, adding that CCTV footage of the incident has been shared with the authorities.
Another protest had turned violent on August 15, when Pakistani supporters allegedly targeted Indian women and children celebrating India's 73rd anniversary of Independence. London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemned the incident.
"This is our culture -- to smile and pay back with love," said Gaurav M, holding an Indian flag. Vinod Tikoo, a fellow Indian also involved in the cleaning exercise, said that the point of the gesture was to show that protests should always be peaceful.
Barricades were put up near Aldwych In the heart of London after the September 3 protests, and the Indian community has sought enhanced security from the metropolitan police. They have also alerted the foreign and commonwealth office as well as the British High Commission in New Delhi about yet another demonstration likely to be taken up on September 14.
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