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London View: The Less Said about The Leicester Model Now The Better

By: Sanjay Suri

Edited By: Pathikrit Sen Gupta

News18.com

Last Updated: September 24, 2022, 09:45 IST

London

UK home minister Suella Braverman discusses recent sectarian violence witnessed in Leicester and the Midlands region with Leicester police official Rob Nixon (Image: Twitter/@suellabraverman)

UK home minister Suella Braverman discusses recent sectarian violence witnessed in Leicester and the Midlands region with Leicester police official Rob Nixon (Image: Twitter/@suellabraverman)

Leicester has seen an influx of new migrants from India, many from Daman and Diu. And Leicester has its own new generation of youngsters not inclined to be quite as calm as those a generation earlier

The violent clashes in Leicester city, about 100 miles north of London, have led to clashes now over what really happened, and who really is to blame. This is of course inevitable in the wake of such clashes. But the reviews now are revealing in their own way, just as the clashes were.

Much of the discourse sits around two divided lines, the Hindu line blaming the Muslims and vice versa. A third line looking to lay a thin cover over those two narratives has followed, that people on both sides are to be blamed, and people on both sides should be restrained, and how nice it would be for peace and calm to return to stay. No disagreement over that, but fine sentiment, or an expression of it, cloaks a huge change under way in Indian society in Leicester, and really across Britain.

The spark to the clashes following the India-Pakistan T20 match on August 28 is itself telling. Indian fans came out on the streets to celebrate. Slogans were raised for India, and against Pakistan. Into these celebrations stepped a Pakistani, who seized an Indian flag and confronted several fans. He was roughed up, his t-shirt ripped away, and he was sent away. What began as a celebration took on an aggressive edge. It was aggression not usually associated with Leicester’s traditionally quiet Hindus.

But the Indian crowds on the street were not from the world of Leicester’s usually quiet Hindus. Leicester has seen an influx of new migrants from India, many from Daman and Diu. And Leicester has its own new generation of youngsters not inclined to be quite as calm as those a generation earlier. Over a period of time this new lot has become aggressive, and on occasions pro-actively so in the face of what they see as aggression and provocation from Muslim groups.

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This kind of aggression from supposedly docile Hindus was itself a provocation for Muslim groups, who stormed into Indian areas of Leicester after the second cricket match that Pakistan won. Hundreds attacked Hindu homes, vandalised cars, and assaulted and abused local people. Assaults continued over a period of several days. There was little that the police did to arrest anyone from these groups.

All this followed a lot of virtual attacks and counter-attacks on social media. Two falsehoods being circulated stood out. One, that Hindus had attacked a mosque. No such thing happened, and the police confirmed this. No Muslim leader ever pointed to any mosque that may have been attacked.

Another was that a group of Hindu youths had abducted a Muslim girl. One Hindu was named, and his house surrounded. This rumour too turned out to be false. No individual was found to have been abducted, and the police confirmed that this allegation was false. But by then it had inflamed enough Muslim youth to attack the Hindus protesting on September 17.

That then led to a protest march by Hindu youths on Saturday, September 17. They were attacked by hundreds of Muslims. The police struggled to keep the two groups separate. The Muslim group surrounded the Shivalya mandir and one of the men tore down a saffron flag from the temple.

Two days later hundreds of Muslims bore down on a Hindu temple in Smethwick in the Midlands. Bottles and firecrackers were thrown and some tried to scale the fence to enter the temple. A police force pushed them back. Threats of similar protests have followed against temples all over Britain.

The police and elders from all faith groups have come together to seek to put a lid over any further eruptions. Home Secretary Suella Braverman visited Leicester on Friday to speak to the police about calming the continuing tension. The optimists are hoping for calm finally. But the narrative has changed.

The new narrative has shown a newly aggressive face of Hindu youngsters. Much of the British media has blamed Narendra Modi-inspired Hindutva for this. Many of the youths see themselves as finally standing up to aggression from local Muslims. Whichever way you look at it, and much of that depends on who is doing the looking, Leicester has witnessed a level of aggression from Hindu youth that the Hindu community had not earlier been known for.

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first published:September 24, 2022, 09:45 IST
last updated:September 24, 2022, 09:45 IST