British government announces independent probe into Leicester unrest
The tension in the British in August between Hindus and Muslims resulted in at least 47 arrests.
The British government on Friday announced an independent inquiry into tensions between Hindus and Muslims in the city of Leicester last year, reported PTI.
UK Communities Secretary Michael Gove commissioned the review under the chairmanship of Lord Ian Austin, who is a former minister for housing and planning as well former minister for the West Midlands.
The unrest in the British city had begun after an India and Pakistan cricket match on August 28. At least, 47 persons were arrested in what the police had described as a “series of disturbances”.
At one point, a Hindu group reportedly walked through the city’s streets chanting “Jai Shri Ram”, a religious phrase that has been adopted by Hindutva groups as a political slogan. Muslim groups reportedly responded with protests and, in one instance, allegedly tore down a saffron flag from outside a Hindu religious centre.
Leicestershire Police’s temporary chief constable Rob Nixon had told the BBC on September 20 that misinformation on social media had played a “huge role” in contributing to the tensions in the city.
Experts told Thomson Reuters Foundation that most of the incendiary tweets, rumours and lies originated from India. The top hashtags used by accounts from India said #HindusUnderattackinUK and #HindusUnderAttack, a BBC investigation had shown.
The Indian High Commission in London had sought immediate action against those involved in the unrest. However, while criticising the violence, the Mission had only spoken about “vandalisation of premises and symbols of Hindu religion”, even though videos on social media showed that the Muslim community had also been attacked.
On Friday, the British government said that the panel will establish the facts of what took place over the period of unrest and a sequence of events. It will also present an analysis of the causes of the unrest, make practical recommendations for how similar events that may arise in future could be prevented and set out proposals and ideas for strengthening social cohesion locally.
“Leicester has a proud history of community cohesion, which makes last year’s disorder all the more shocking and upsetting,” Gove said. “This review will build a thorough understanding of the specific events that took place and what can be learned from them.”
Austin said that acceptance of different backgrounds and beliefs remain at the heart of British identity.
“This makes the scenes we witnessed in Leicester last year all the more worrying and it is therefore so important that we listen to people in Leicester to get to the bottom of what happened and why,” he said.