Amid a series of violent clashes between groups of mainly Hindu and Muslim young men in the eastern England city of Leicester, Lord Dolar Popat, a Ugandan-British accountant and a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Hindus, wrote to UK home secretary Suella Braverman urging her to engage with the group in order to de-escalate matters.
“Let us not let a minority of people destroy the progress we have made and that have chosen to attack not only Hindu values but British values of being inclusive and championing religious freedom,” the letter of Lord Popat, the first Gujarati to represent the Conservative Party in House of Lords, reads.
The letter added that “Hinduism is a peace-loving religion that has existed peacefully alongside other religions in the UK for many years now and as a community, we are passionate for this to continue”.
There was an escalation of clashes in Leicester, with one of the UK’s largest South Asian origin populations, since the India-Pakistan Asia Cup cricket match in Dubai on August 28. When a protest over the weekend turned violent, videos were circulating on social media showing crowds of men facing off and throwing bottles as police officers attempted to restore order.
“We have sadly seen the rise of tensions due to a small minority of people intimidating and being violent towards other based on their religion. They do not represent the majority of Hindus and Muslims in the UK who live out their lives in peace and practise their religion without stopping anyone else from doing so,” Lord Popat wrote in the letter.
“As a leading member from the Hindu community, I am asking you to engage with us by meeting with the APPG for British Hindus in order for us to find a solution to de-escalate tensions. The APPG covers a variety of Hindu organisation and is best placed to engage with you to ensure Hindus are represented at all levels in this discussion,” he added.
Meanwhile, Braverman met with local police officers and Hindu and Muslim community leaders in Leicester and assured them that thugs behind recent violent clashes would face the full force of the law.
Earlier, the Indian high commission in London had strongly condemned the “violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and vandalisation of premises and symbols of Hindu religion”.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar also raised similar concerns during a meeting with his UK counterpart, foreign secretary James Cleverly, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby has indicated plans for an independent review into the circumstances behind the weekend’s violence.