London, March 24
A fact-finding report into the violent clashes between groups of men on the streets of Leicester following an India-Pakistan Asia Cup cricket match in Dubai last year has warned of ethnic enclaves or ghettos of migrants in the eastern England city as a key factor behind communal tension.
The Delhi-based Centre for Democracy, Pluralism and Human Rights (CDPHR) think tank, which launched its report at a Committee Room in the House of Commons on Thursday, sheds light on the events that took place in August-September last year and their human rights implications.
In its ‘Fact-finding report on Leicester Violence 2022 – The rise of territorial majoritarianism and Hinduphobia’, the think tank calls for immediate action to address the underlying issues that led to the Leicester violence such as the rise of extremism and hate speech.
“There were two kinds of stories circulating around the violence that occurred, which is the motivation behind this fact-finding report,” explained Rashmi Samant of the ATMAH non-profit organisation and one of the co-authors of the report.
“What we found was that different religious groups in east Leicester, ground zero of the unrest, are living in ethnic enclaves – with some ethnicities clubbed up in some spaces more than others. This phenomenon is not common in the United Kingdom but we found it continues to happen in Leicester because of the spillover effect involving migrants from countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh,” she said.
The report claims that the presence of these ethnic enclaves gave rise to territorial tensions and localised majoritarianism, which were witnessed both before and during the unrest in east Leicester – the ethnic enclave of the Muslim community residing in Leicester with a minority presence of the Hindu community.
Conservative Party MP Bob Blackman, chair of the India (Trade and Investment) All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), said at the launch event that “fake news” spread on social media has been identified as a major factor behind the escalation of the clashes.
“Lessons must be learnt. There was a false narrative being spread to create divisions within the communities. In Leicester, people of all religions have lived alongside each other for many, many years,” said Blackman.
The findings of the report say that the attackers attempted to undermine the fundamental principles of democracy and pluralism, including freedom of expression by spreading misinformation.
The attack also targeted individuals based on their religious beliefs and affiliations, particularly the practitioners of Hinduism, which is a clear violation of human rights, the report notes.
The CDPHR calls on all stakeholders, including the government, law enforcement agencies, civil society, and the media, to take immediate action to address the underlying issues that led to the Leicester violence.
“This includes addressing the rise of extremism and hate speech, protecting the rights of all individuals to live in their area of choosing sans the fear of territorial majoritarianism, tackling biased media reporting and ensuring that law enforcement agencies have the resources and training they need to prevent and respond to such incidents,” it said.
Leicestershire Police made several arrests in the wake of the violent clashes as groups of men, believed to be largely from local Hindu and Muslim communities, clashed in the wake of the India-Pakistan Asia Cup cricket match in Dubai at the end of August 2022.
The Indian High Commission in London issued a statement to “strongly condemn the violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and vandalisation of premises and symbols of Hindu religion” at the time.
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