Friday June 14, 2024

Hindutva ideology blamed for unrest in Leicester

By Murtaza Ali Shah
September 24, 2022
Former Leicester City Mayor Abdul Razak Osman. — Photo by author
Former Leicester City Mayor Abdul Razak Osman. — Photo by author 

LEICESTER: Former Leicester City Mayor Abdul Razak Osman has blamed Hindutva ideology for causing Hindu-Muslim violent clashes and unrest in the city of Leicester - one of the most multi-cultural cities in Britain.

In an interview with Geo News, the Indian-origin former mayor Leicester City said he had no doubt that certain elements in Leicester linked with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) had brought an extremist, hateful and hostile ideology to the town. They incited a group of youth to chant anti-Pakistan slogans through a hostile march on the streets after India-Pakistan clash in Asia Cup on August 28 in Dubai.

Abdul Razak Osman has lived and worked in Leicester for over four decades and was one of the longest serving councillors until a few years back. He said: “A group of men from the local Hindu community attacked a Muslim boy over some minor issue. Those involved in the attack were from the Daman/Goa community who had arrived in the UK recently on Portuguese passports. The same group also attacked another boy on the next street.”

Violence and unrest erupted after weeks of growing tension between parts of the Hindu and Muslim communities in the city after a cricket match between India and Pakistan. As many as 47 people were arrested for their involvement in attacks.

Footage, which went viral on social media, showed groups of masked men throwing bottles and rocks at each other and on the police. One footage showed hundreds of men marching through the streets chanting “Jai Shri Ram”.

The former Leicester City Lord Mayor blamed the rise of Modi’s Hindu nationalism through RSS and BJP and its penetration into the UK through the groups affiliated with the extremist ideology.

Abdul Razak Osman said the local police and authorities are fully aware of the extremist threat that exists in the city but did nothing to deal with it, including on the days when the violence broke out.

The former Leicester City Mayor called on all communities to stand together to “defeat the influence of extremism coming from India via media and hate preachers. Those involved in unrest on the streets came from outside the city in coaches and cars. There are fears of copycat riots if the situation is not controlled and if those involved in attacks are not punished.”

On Thursday, the New Home Secretary Suella Brakeman MP tweeted she had visited the city to meet the local police and community leaders to discuss the latest situation and steps being taken to protect the communities.

Leaders of the Hindu and Muslim communities have issued a joint appeal for harmony in the city. Pradyumna Das, President of the city’s ISKCON Temple, read out a statement saying “Our message to anyone that sows disharmony between us is clear - we will not let you succeed. We ask all to respect the sanctity of religious places attacks. This is not acceptable nor upheld by our faiths,” the statement said.