Security barricades were removed from outside the British High Commission in Delhi and the British High Commissioner’s residence, in what is widely being seen as tit-for-tat action, days after India protested the lack of security outside the Indian mission in London.
Several videos shared on social media showed security apparatus provided by Delhi police missing from outside the British High Commission.
The footage also showed municipality workers removing remnants such as sandbags from outside the British mission in Delhi on Wednesday.
There is no official confirmation from the Indian government or the British High Commission yet on the development.
“We do not comment on security matters,” a British High Commission spokesperson told The Independent on Wednesday and added a statement – if there is any – would be issued by London.
A senior police officer reportedly said the security arrangement was only reduced as it was coming in the way of the usual commute in that area.
"The security arrangements outside the British High Commission here are intact. However, barricades placed on the pathway towards the Commission that created hurdles for commutation have been removed," a police officer told news agency Press Trust of India.
According to an Indian Express report citing Delhi police sources, around 12 barricades have been removed from outside the high commission as well as the residence of British High Commissioner Alex Ellis on directions of the Delhi Police.
The move has raised eyebrows as it comes days after India summoned a senior British diplomat in Delhi to protest scenes of violence and vandalism at the Indian High Commission in London on Sunday.
India’s foreign ministry denounced the UK government for the “complete absence of British security” around the High Commission and said Delhi “finds unacceptable the indifference of the UK government to the security of Indian diplomatic premises”.
It was after several supporters of the Khalistan movement – a Sikh secessionist movement that calls for a separate homeland for the religious community to be carved out of India – protested outside the Indian High Commission building in Aldwych, Westminster, and took down the Indian flag.
India’s formal protest was followed by large anti-UK protests held by several people outside the British High Commission in the Chanakyapuri area of Delhi on Monday.
Several Sikh supporters surrounded the commission to express anger over the incident of vandalism at the Indian mission in the UK and asked the British government to take strict measures against those involved.
After the attack on the Indian mission in London, supporters of the Khalistan movement also vandalised the Indian Consulate in San Francisco on Monday.
On Wednesday, security was beefed up outside the Indian High Commission in London ahead of a planned anti-India protest, shortly after it was reported that security was reduced outside British mission in Delhi, NDTV reported.
More policemen and barricades were installed outside the Indian High Commission in London ahead of the protest, in an apparent effort to prevent a repeat of the vandalism.
The attacks in the US and UK came after Indian police launched a massive crackdown on Khalistan movement members. Pubjab police launched a massive operation to arrest fugitive Amritpal Singh, a self-styled preacher and leader of a radical organisation “Waris Punjab De”, or Heirs of Punjab.
Mr Singh has been on run since Saturday after he was accused of creating discord in India’s Punjab state, which has a long history of violent armed insurgency in the 1980s for an independent Sikh state called Khalistan.
The reduction of security from outside the British mission is similar to the December 2013 incident when barricades around the US embassy in Delhi were removed after Indian Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade was arrested in New York for visa fraud charges and for alleged violation of labour rules in her residence over her alleged exploitation of an Indian domestic worker
The ties between the UK and India have been under stress lately after a BBC documentary in January over Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s role in the Gujarat riots 2002 triggered controversy.
Subsequently, BBC’s offices were searched by tax authorities, an apparent three-day-long tax raid that was discussed in the UK parliament with the opposition Labour party calling the raids “deeply worrying”.
The Rishi Sunak government also confirmed that they have raised the issue with theModi administration and foreign office minister David Rutley said: "We stand up for the BBC.”
The Independent has reached out to the British High Commission for a comment on the matter.