Shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to the hotel Friday night, after his speech at Wembley and a dinner with the Indian community, his team of officials, who track Twitter feed, found out about the attacks in France.
As it became clear that it was a terror attack, Modi tweeted his first thoughts: “News from Paris is anguishing & dreadful. Prayers with families of the deceased. We are united with people of France in this tragic hour.”
The London Metropolitan Police immediately ramped up security around the hotel where Modi was staying. Officials said National Security Advisor Ajit Doval asked officials of the Special Protection Group to stay in touch with British authorities on security arrangements, officials said. A British government source said, “The SPG and British security officials were in contact with each other, and they were informed about the standard protocols with the security upgrade.”
Most Indian officials with the delegation stayed up till late, tracking the updates on television screens, sources said. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar was in touch with Indian ambassador to France, Mohan Kumar.
On Saturday morning, the Prime Minister first spoke from a prepared text, “I condemn the barbaric terrorist attacks in Paris in the strongest terms. More than hundred people lost their lives while they were doing what they loved, or spending time with their loved ones.”
“We feel the shock, pain and outrage of the people of France. India stands firmly with the great people of France in dealing with this tragedy. And we must stand together as humanity in combating the major global threat of our times and to uphold our values and our way of life.”
Later, while unveiling the statue of 12th century scholar-philosopher Basaveshwara in London, Modi said: “My heart is filled with sadness due to what happened in Paris. This was not an attack on Paris but it was an attack on entire humanity and humanitarian forces.”
He urged the international community to give a definition to terrorism so it can be ascertained who are in support or opposition. “Once we have that definition, we will know who helps to promote terrorism and who are the victims to it,” he said.
As news of the Paris attacks reached London, police fanned out at late-night spots in and around Soho and Piccadilly, where the bars and pubs are located, keeping a watchful eye.
On Saturday morning, London Underground commuters were seen reading, discussing the Paris attacks. At the St James Park station near the hotel where Modi was staying, a police officer told The Indian Express, “We have been asked to be vigilant. But, not panic.”
Officials told The Indian Express that Modi was going ahead with plans to attend the G-20 summit in Antalya (Turkey) — he was leaving London in the afternoon.
While officials said it was too early to take a call on whether he would pay an impromptu visit to Paris, after the summit in Turkey, they said he was anyway going to Paris on November 31 to attend the COP-21 summit on climate change.
The terror attack is expected to dominate the G20 meeting, a gathering of the world’s top 20 economies who meet every year to discuss the global economic agenda.
Officials said the attacks came barely 12 hours after Modi and British counterpart David Cameron had a candid conversation on terrorism and security cooperation at the Chequers’ residence Friday.
On Thursday, Cameron by his side, Modi said: “Both our countries face extreme threat from terrorism, that is why fighting terrorism is not something that just one or two or three countries can do. This is the responsibility of every human that’s in the world, every humanitarian, every human being. Today, terrorism has spread so far that it has no frontiers. It has no barriers. New groups are born every day. New equipment falls into their hands every day, so terrorists don’t manufacture their own equipment, obviously it comes from somewhere.”
“Mahatma Gandhi used to say that you only get justice when you know what injustice is. So, who do we designate as terrorists? Who helps the terrorists? In fact, there is a proposal in the United Nations on this issue, but unfortunately, it is just hanging without any settlement and the UK and we agree that we need to discuss this at length. That is why all well-meaning nations should work together. All those who help terrorists, in one way or the other, should be fought against and we all should work towards protecting humanity,” he said.