Gangs of drunken Hindu youths have been terrorising Muslims in Leicester, local activists have told 5Pillars.
Tensions began in May when a 19 year old Muslim man was attacked with bats and poles by a gang of around 30 Hindu youths, 5Pillars was told. They also attacked a man who was trying to protect the victim in his house.
The 19 year old was hospitalised and the incident was reported to the police, but the perpetrators have yet to be charged.
On August 28, after an India-Pakistan cricket match, a large group of Hindu men marched through the streets in Leicester chanting “Death to Pakistan,” which led to clashes. A Sikh man who was trying to stop the chants was assaulted as was a police officer.
According to locals, two days ago another 19 year old Muslim was attacked by a gang of Hindu men after he went out to smoke a cigarette late at night. The incident happened after another Pakistan-India cricket match. The Muslim was accused of celebrating the Pakistan victory by throwing eggs at people. He was subsequently hospitalised.
And last night there was a meeting in Leicester about the incidents attended by over 300 people, including police representatives. After the meeting a group of Muslim men marched through areas of Leicester to show their presence. Clashes and stand-offs with the police occurred up until about 11pm.
Community activist Majid Freemen told 5Pillars: “Something like this has never happened in this area; it’s very shocking. These gangs have been causing different types of issues for a long time, anti-social behaviour such as urinating in the streets and getting drunk. But now they’re attacking Muslims. Muslim women in the area say they’re being intimidated by Hindus and locals feel like the police aren’t taking it seriously. They are extremely frustrated with the authorities.
“Muslims and Hindus have been living in peace here for years. They’ve never had any issues. But this specific group of youngsters are going around getting drunk and beating people up and it’s causing disunity in the community. If the police had done their job they could have nipped it in the bud. There is a total lack of communication with the community about what is actually happening.”
He added: “The Muslims in the area didn’t respond to these provocations because the family of the victim of the attack in May told them they’d gone through the proper channels. But the attacks haven’t stopped. These gangs are picking Muslims off “30 on one” late at night.
“At the meeting last night the Muslims made it clear that they have no problem with Hindus. But what we will not accept is our kids getting beaten up repeatedly and nothing happening about it.”
5Pillars contacted Leicestershire Police and they issued the following statement.
“Yesterday evening (Monday 5 September) we received reports that a number of people were in the area of Cottesmore Road and that three people had suffered injuries that were not life-threatening or life-changing. One person suffered a stab wound to their hand. A full and robust investigation is underway. Our message is clear – we have a zero-tolerance approach to violence.
“We are saddened that these incidents have occurred and understand they are causing concern to our communities and we urge the community to work with us to identify those responsible. It is our aim to de-escalate tensions and officers are making progress on these investigations as a matter of priority.
“In addition, we are working closely with community leaders and trying to provide reassurance and prevent inadvertent misinformation spreading in the community.
“We have taken extensive action this weekend as we were aware of community tensions that resulted from disorder after the Asia Cup Cricket match took place on 28 August. There was an incident in the area of Melton Road and Shaftesbury Avenue after this match where an India supporter was assaulted by other India supporters and there was some racist chanting.
“A video of this has been circulating on social media. Police have been taking a preventative stance, investigating, and keeping an open dialogue with communities affected. A man who was arrested in connection with this incident was later released under investigation.
“Furthermore, at 1.45am on Monday (5 September) a man was assaulted near to Bridge Road in East Leicester. At this time the victim is considering the options to engage with police but we have continued to work with him and talk to him about what happened. There is now a team of dedicated detectives investigating and this is progressing quickly. The victim remains in hospital with a number of injuries.
“In order to keep you safe, an appropriate policing plan is in place and our proactive high visibility patrols will be continuing in the local area.
“We are keen to avoid further incidents but should they occur officers may use dispersal powers under Section 34 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Failing to comply with an order is a criminal offence and police can return anyone under the age of 16 to their home address. Notices can be issued for a period of up to 48 hours and anyone found breaching a notice is liable to be arrested and face further action.”
5Pillars has reached out to local Hindus in Leicester and we are awaiting a response.
Although nothing is known about the political affiliations of the perpetrators, there are concerns among Muslims in Leicester that the rise of Hindutva supremacism in India is being mirrored by a corresponding growth of extremism in the Indian diaspora, particularly in the UK.