Tensions are running high between the Sikh and Muslim communities in Leicester after five males were jailed for raping a Sikh girl last week.
Six men were jailed for paying or offering to pay a “vulnerable and damaged” 16-year-old girl for sex. Leicester Crown Court heard she had been used as a “sexual commodity” and left with internal injuries.
The girl told the men she was a prostitute, but the judge said they must have realised she was vulnerable and should have helped her.
The men, whose ages range from 20 to 39, were jailed for between eight months and five years.
It follows disquiet among Sikhs in the Midlands over alleged sex crimes against youngsters by organised gangs operating a network of contacts and premises to carry out abuse.
Tensions peaked earlier this year when a curry restaurant in Leicester was attacked by around 50 men, after a 16-year-old Sikh girl was abused in a flat attached to the property.
Sikh men brandishing clubs and knives attacked the Moghul Durbar restaurant, leaving three people with stab wounds and the premises ransacked. A judge described the violence as “mob rule” and “lawless anarchy”.
Muslim men jailed
Six men, including five Muslims, were jailed last week after they were found guilty of operating a sex ring from the property attached to Moghul Durbar.
Sikh anger in Leicester over the issue of exploitation has been fuelled by a perception that police had failed to properly investigate the case.
The Sikh Awareness Society (SAS) said that Sikh families often felt powerless to know how to deal with grooming. At any one time, the group is helping around 15 victims of grooming. More than half of the cases involves street grooming – where a victim is targeted by an organised gang.
Coordinator Jagjir Singh, 31, said: “Sikhs feel like it’s happening and they don’t have the resources to deal with it. Also, the police don’t have the resources to deal with it.”
Mr Singh said: “When you are talking about street grooming all the crimes I’ve seen are involving one community. What is the reason for that? These questions needs to be thrown into the open: why are married men going off with a 15-year-old girl?
“When we are dealing with victims it’s important to ask why are they able to get close to a child? It is much easier for an Asian man to get a Sikh girl because they share some elements of culture like Bollywood. Also, there is the fact that we [Pakistanis and Sikhs] are congregated together in particular parts of the country.”
Leicestershire Police denied that January’s attack on the Moghul Durbar restaurant was sparked by a police failure to investigate allegations against members of the Pakistani community. A police spokesman said: “Some allegations were brought to us by a representative of the Sikh community late last year and we launched an investigation within 24 hours of that.
“But the 16-year-old was not prepared to discuss in detail what her experiences were and it took some time to build up a rapport. The restaurant was attacked on January 14, the victim disclosed details on the 16th and arrests were made three days later.”
Assistant Secretary of Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Ibrahim Mogra said: ” Crimes by a small minority of Muslims risk tainting all their fellow worshipers. Like in the Holocaust when Jews were picked on, the attacks went up in number because decent people did not do enough to stop them.
“More and more people are expressing their concern and I’m having to assure them and comfort them because of the worry that they have.”
A spokesman for the Sikh Council UK said: “The Sikh Council UK has begun dialogue with various authorities to identify and address particular issues of concern to the Sikh community, some of which are historical. All authorities should ensure their response is prompt and robust to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
The Sikh Council is disappointed that the response of authorities has often been insufficient in this regard.”