India conveyed its concerns to the UK over Pakistani elements ‘lobbying’ with certain British lawmakers to raise the Kashmir issue in their Parliament and sought cooperation in the extradition of fugitives like Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi, officials said. These issues were strongly raised by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju with British Minister of State for Immigration Brandon Lewis at a delegation-level meeting here. The Indian side expressed deep concerns over some “Mirpuris and Pakistanis” continuing to engage in anti-India propaganda in the United Kingdom, a home ministry official said. Rijiju also brought to the notice of Lewis the “lobbying” by Pakistani elements with some current and former UK MPs and Lords, like David Nuttall, Nusrat Ghani, Robert Flello, Fiona Mactaggart, who debated and approved a motion on the Kashmir issue in the British Parliament in the past.
The Indian side also conveyed its resentment over shadow foreign minister Emily Thornberry of Labour Party saying that that Britain would incorporate its concern on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir in any post-Brexit deal her country would strike with India, the official said. Rijiju made it clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an inalienable and integral part of India and Britain must not allow its territory to be used for anti-India propaganda, he said. The UK side said the British society is liberal and it advocates free speech and ideas, another official said. The issue of anti-India activities by some Khalistani separatists were also brought to the notice of the British delegation, and they were asked not to give platforms to the supporters of terrorism and radical views.
Rijiju said such developments would only invigorate Khalistani and Kashmiri separatists groups. Rijiju pressed for cooperation from Britain in extradition of 13 individuals, including liquor baron Vijay Mallya, former IPL honcho Lalit Modi and cricket bookie Sanjiv Chawla, the official said. The British side conveyed that the extradition hearings for Mallya will start on December 4 and he will remain on conditional bail. India also sought legal assistance in prosecution of 16 other alleged criminals. Other fugitives whose extradition India has been seeking include Rajesh Kapoor, accused of kidnapping his brother Deepak Kapoor’s daughter, Tiger Hanif, who is wanted in connection with two bomb attacks in Gujarat in 1993.
A few others are Atul Singh, Raj Kumar Patel, Jatiender Kumar Angurala and Asha Rani Angurala. New Delhi also agreed to issue emergency certificates for six months to Indians in the UK if their travel documents are lost. Earlier it was three months. Rijiju sought cooperation of the UK in ensuring a more favourable visa regime for Indians, especially students. Rijiju also raised the issue of social security of thousands of temporary Indian professionals working in the UK, who make social security contributions in both the countries. He took up the issue strongly with the UK as it affects thousands of workers from India. However, no decision on the issue has been taken, the official said. A social security totalisation agreement with the UK would exempt Indian professionals working there for short term from social security taxes if they paid such a tax in India, the official said.
Other issues that figured in the meeting included dependent visas, fraud phone calls to Indian nationals, distressed or abandoned Indian women, cybercrime etc. The home ministry said in a statement said India assured the visiting British minister of full cooperation on the extradition of Mohammad Abdul Shakur, wanted in the UK on murder charges. He also conveyed willingness to cooperate on exchange of criminal records, the statement said. Lewis expressed satisfaction that meetings between the Indian and UK immigration ministers have been formalised as a dialogue every six months and expressed hope that this will further strengthen the bilateral ties. Further, Lewis sought India’s participation and support for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London in April next year.