The Indian government strongly condemned violence targeted at the Indian diaspora community and the vandalisation of Hindu symbols in Leicester and called on the UK authorities to take firm action and protect those affected.
There have been reports of “disorder” in the city between Hindu and Muslim groups in the city since fans clashed following an India-Pakistan Asia Cup cricket match at the end of last month.
“We strongly condemn the violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and vandalisation of premises and symbols of Hindu religion,” read the High Commission statement this week.
“We have strongly taken up this matter with the UK authorities and have sought immediate action against those involved in these attacks. We call on the authorities to provide protection to the affected people,” the statement said.
Leicestershire Police said its operation in the affected east Leicester area continues with the aim of preventing any further disorder and that 15 people have been arrested.
The police said: “The impact this disorder is having on our local communities is not acceptable. We will not tolerate violence, disorder or intimidation in Leicester, and we continue to call for calm and dialogue. Our police operations and investigations continue with rigour and at scale.”
The force said a number of neighbouring police forces, including the mounted police unit, had been deployed to bring matters under control. Dispersal and stop and search powers were also used to restore calm.
“Officers became aware of groups of young men gathering on Sunday afternoon [September 18] in the North Evington area of the city. Officers spoke to them and took steps, including putting in place a temporary police cordon, to minimise harm and disturbance to communities,” the police said.
It followed clashes on over the weekend, when the police said it became aware of a video circulating showing a man pulling down a flag outside a religious building on Melton Road, Leicester, and said the incident would be investigated.
Diaspora group Insight UK has raised concerns over “misinformation” being spread on social media and called on the police to investigate the Hindu community in the area being deliberately targeted.
Insight UK said in a statement this week: “Leicester is one of the heartlands of the Hindu community in the UK, having thrived there for more than 70 years. Leicester has the second highest Hindu population in Europe. It hosts the largest Diwali celebration outside India and has acted as a hub for the British Hindu community to live peacefully for decades.
“On the evening of 17 September 2022, a peaceful protest march by Hindu youths was attacked by Muslim extremists with stones and glass bottles. Video footage and social media posts show that this was carefully planned to terrorise the Hindu community, but misinformation and distorted videos have been spread on social media to falsely accuse Hindus of creating this situation.
“The Hindu community is entitled to the due protection it deserves to preserve its religious freedom against potential future attacks and the serious consequences that could follow.”
Police had imposed similar dispersal orders earlier this month after a few days of unrest in the wake of the India versus Pakistan match in Dubai on August 28. The police and community leaders have been calling for calm over the past few weeks, amid reports of men coming in from other cities of the UK to stoke disorder in Leicester.