The Birmingham City Council has been forced to withdraw permission granted to the organisers of a rally titled “Burhan Wani Day” to mark the first death anniversary of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant/terrorist Burhan Wani here after India lodged a strong protest over the same. Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with Indian security forces in the Tral region of Jammu and Kashmir on July 8, 2016. The United Kingdom has a long memory of terror attacks. For more than 30 years from the early 1970s, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), a paramilitary group, carried out multiple attacks across the UK.
The deadliest were the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974, when 21 were killed. In 1996, the IRA detonated a massive 1500-kilogram (3300-pound) bomb in a Manchester shopping center that injured more than 200 and was not far from this year’s terror attack in the Manchester Arena that claimed the lives of 23 adults and children and left 250 injured, 59 of whom were taken to hospital. Twenty three of these 59 had to be classified as critically injured.
For more than a decade, Islamist terrorism has overtaken Irish Republicanism as the key threat for British security services. On July 7 2005, a cell of four British Muslim suicide bombers inspired by al Qaeda detonated devices on the London transit network, killing 52. Since 2005, successive British governments have warned the public to be on alert for terror attacks, elevating the threat level to “severe”, the second highest alert.
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The UK’s MI5 has thwarted dozens of terrorist plots, mainly involving British-born would-be attackers, the latest of which took place on March 22, 2017 in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster in London, seat of the British Parliament. In that incident, the attacker, Khalid Masood, drove a car into pedestrians on the pavement along the south side of Westminster Bridge and Bridge Street, killing four and injuring more than 50 others. After his car crashed into the perimeter fence of the Palace grounds, Masood abandoned it and ran into New Palace Yard where he fatally stabbed an unarmed police officer. He was then shot dead by an armed police officer.
In the case of the “Burhan Wani Day, the Birmingham City Council had initially given permission for the memorial rally to be held on his first death anniversary at Victoria Square on Saturday. Various posters were being circulated on social media advertising the event. One of them even carried a picture of the slain militant, and said: “We will take back what is ours forcefully. We will not rest until Kashmir is free from Kuffars and hoist the flag of Islamic Ummah.”
The Indian Government flagged its concerns with the British Government, which led to the Birmingham City Council cancelling the event. “We took a booking for a peaceful rally highlighting the human rights abuse in Kashmir. However, we are now aware of concerns raised about the promotional leaflet and, having assessed the material, have not given permission for the use of Victoria Square,” a Birmingham Council spokesman was quoted, as saying by the Birmingham Mail.
It was reported that Deputy High Commissioner of India to the UK Dinesh Patnaik lodged a formal complaint with the Foreign and commonwealth Office (FCO), wherein he said that “allowing anti-India elements to flourish here in the name of democracy will not do”.