Indian businesses raise theft concerns with Lammy

The issue featured during discussions with UK shadow foreign secretary David Lammy

India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar meets with the UK shadow foreign secretary David Lammy and shadow minister for Asia and the Pacific Catherine West. (ANI Photo)

Pramod Thomas

INDIAN travellers feel they have to “look over their shoulder” in posh London areas as several businesspersons have had their expensive watches and bags mugged, according to a Delhi-based entrepreneur.

The issue featured during discussions with UK shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, who is in New Delhi for talks on UK-India relations and trade and commerce.

He attended a meeting of members of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday (6).

Indian renewable energy entrepreneur Devin Narang, who chaired the meeting, told Sky News: “We were discussing how to increase business between our two countries and areas of concern, and I mentioned that there were a lot of concerns about Indian CEOs getting mugged. It’s happened to a lot of people I know.”

Narang said Lammy responded by saying it was an “issue that would be addressed”.

The New Delhi-based entrepreneur has not himself been targeted on his many visits to London — but said between five and eight Indian business people have told him they have been mugged in the past few years.

“One of them got his watch taken, his wrist got slashed and his watch was taken away, where the American embassy used to be in Mayfair,” he said.

“Another had their bag picked up and taken while they were in a store in Oxford Street,” he said.

Narang said friends and family who have visited London in recent years feel like they have to “look over their shoulder” while visiting upmarket places in the city.

“It’s not only Indian people. I am told that people from other countries have also stopped wearing expensive watches and bags, as well as jewellery that might be taken,” he said.

Narang said the muggings are not deterring Indian business people from coming to London, but believes it has made them feel they have to be more careful.

A spokesperson for the mayor of London, who supervises the Metropolitan Police, said, “The Met have stepped up their response to robberies — which are rising nationally — and have specialist teams out proactively targeting the most prolific offenders and robbery hotspots.”

Lammy and Labour’s shadow trade secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, are on a pre-election tour in India.

“Enjoyed our conversation that covered bilateral cooperation as well as important regional and global developments,” said Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar in a social media post after meeting Labour leaders.