October 2020 News

Indian Diaspora Groups In UK Rally Against New 'fringe' Group On Kashmir

1 October 2020
Aditi Khanna

London: Indian diaspora organisations are rallying against a new 'fringe' Conservative Party group on Kashmir and have issued letters to the ruling party headquarters, copies of which have also been sent to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel. The protest follows the revival of a so-called 'Conservative Friends of Kashmir' group, announced on social media last week by seven Conservative parliamentarians representing constituencies with a significant Pakistani diaspora population in the UK. While the Conservative Party has said it does not recognise the group as an official organisation, around 83 diaspora groups came together to issue a collective letter to register their protest. 'This newly formed group within the Conservative Party seems to have been set up by the members of Parliament who represent constituencies with a high concentration of Pakistani Muslim voters,' reads the letter signed by groups such as the Friends of India Society International (FISI) UK, Global Organisation of People of Indian Origins (GOPIO) London, UK Indian National Students Association (INSA) UK and ABHI UK. The group and its objectives 'seem nefarious and is seen as directly meddling in the affairs of the Indian sovereign territory,' it notes, calling on the party co-chairs Benjamin Elliot and Amanda Milling to 'immediately disband' the organisation. The Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), a signatory of the letter, also issued its own letter to the Tory headquarters calling for 'prompt action' against the group. Conservative Friends of India (CFI), the official Indian diaspora group of the ruling party, says it is 'very disappointed' at the development and has also raised its concerns with the party headquarters. 'This group is not an official or affiliated Conservative Party group. We remain in conversation with the party chairman and will keep our members updated. We have received significant support and solidarity from many members of Parliament, who clearly support the policy work and ethos of Conservative Friends of India,' CFI said in a statement. The view was echoed by Tory parliamentarian Bob Blackman, who has issued his own letter to the party chair urging that it not be officially recognised in any way.