Lessons from Leicester

Samarjit Singh

Leicester: The recent communal  violence   in Leicester after the Asia cup  match between India-Pakistan has been widely branded as a Hindu – Muslim issue by the media. It is and it isn’t, depends on how one knows the psyche of the south Asian immigrant communities living in the UK.

I arrived in the city of Leicester in September 2003 to pursue a degree in Interior Architecture and Spatial Design at  De Montfort University. Little did I know I was going to live in little India or the most “ Asian” city in the UK, where ethnic Asian minorities form the majority in what used to be a white English Textile hub in the East Midlands. Leicester recently was declared as the first city in the UK to have a non-white population in the majority, which itself gives you an indication as to why such incidents take place. This is not the first time a fight has broken out between Indians & Pakistanis over a cricket match in Leicester.

What happened in Birmingham subsequently is what we should focus on and try to understand what lies beneath generations of hatred towards India, religious extremism, lack of education, bitterness and bigotry.

Leicester has a large Indian Gujrati Hindu  population which is settled all over the city , go to Melton road and you can find desi sweet shops, restaurants, grocery stores and State Bank of India branches. There is a sense of entrepreneurship, business , enterprise and one cannot ignore the fact that generations of Indian migrants have contributed towards the development of the area.

Just a few blocks away is high fields, a poor neighbourhood with a high crime rate , drug abuse, crumbling infrastructure & streets notorious for gang violence. Sadly, the majority population is Muslim with Indian & Pakistani ancestry. Till I came to Leicester, I did not know that there are “ Kutchy ( from Kutch) “ , “ Memon” & “ Gujrati” Muslims from Pakistan too, to a normal Indian a Pakistani generally is a Punjabi speaking big built , fair skinned person. The Pakistani & Indian Gujrati Muslim community  has been at the forefront of communal harmony & one of the main reasons why Leicester has been a fine example in communal harmony.

Regardless of their socio economic back ground, Pakistani Gujrati Muslims are tolerant, accommodating , open to differences and non-violent.

The Hindu Gujarati community is known for their enterprise but are lesser known for their ultra conservative and often communal views which we  conveniently like to ignore. They can be equally intolerant, insecure, in ward looking but are non-violent. I hardly ever saw gangs of Hindu mobs walking the street chanting “ Jair shri Ram” till now. So something has changed and it is similar to what happened Birmingham where a temple was surrounded by mob of 300 violent Pakistani Punjabi- Mirpuri mob. Yes it wasn’t a Muslim mob, it was a Pakistani Punjabi/Mirpuri Muslim Mob.

Birmingham has a large Mirpuri population, Mirpuris are Pakistani Muslims who settled around the Jhelum region in POK or as they call it Azad Kashmir. They don’t speak Kashmiri, their food, clothing, language, dialects are more Punjabi influenced than Kashmiri.

They are very hostile, insensitive, often violent towards Indians, particularly “Hindus”. I would often hear them cursing Indians as “ cow worshipping bastards” or “ cow piss drinkers”, the ease with which they mocked the Hindu deities and Gods was regarded as a casual lunchtime joke, the Hindu was someone with dark skin, weak and skinny , which was a result of them eating “ grass” and not “ beef”.

Children as young as 10 would come out of the mosques cursing Indians & their elder brothers would show them off as soldiers of Islam.

This is not Islam and this is not a Muslim problem. This is a Pakistani Mirpuri – Punjabi problem.

You see, Pakistan became a country on the pretext that Muslims cannot co-exist  with Hindus and therefore millions of Muslims who believed in this idea migrated from all parts of India. Migration from the common wealth in the 70’s & 80’s to the UK took with them the generation which grew up or was born around partition. It is this mindset which  parents passed on to their children to see Hindus as their enemy. It is so much more in the British Mirpuri, Punjabi community than in the Baloch or Gujarati Pakistani.

Birmingham’s Pakistani Gangs consider themselves “ top dogs’ when it comes to drugs and violence, unapologetic about smoking weed on Eid as a trophy after 30 days of Ramadan, attending Friday prayers yet making deals in the evening for heroin and stolen cars, branding themselves as saviours of Palestine , soldiers of Islam yet calling Shias as non-Muslims & rats, extending their violent services to counter any Hindu or Sikh stronghold in their area & so on.

These people  have never read the Quran or at-least never really understood the meanings or teachings. They break every rule of Islam and their redemption is to fight Hindus or non-Muslims to prove their valour in their communities. They flash their British passports but don’t realise it was the brits who gave away Palestinian land to the jews to create  today’s most significant religious , cultural & civilisational war.

So to say that a mob of 300 Muslims surrounded the temple is correct, at the same time incorrect as it has mainly British Pakistani Mirpuri thugs. I can guarantee that hardly any Indian , Sudanese, Arab, Lebanese Bangladeshi Muslim was part of this shameful act.

 Religious radicalisation begins at home, is expanded at religious events and is fine-tuned by extremists.

In today’s India we must be careful what we teach our children , after all a generation born in the UK can be radicalised over a bitter divide 75 years ago and are living in an intoxicated hangover of partition. Indians abroad are known for the tolerance, integration & contribution to the economy where as the Pakistanis are associated with intolerance, Radical Islam & ghettoization of areas. Let’s not forget a Pakistani living in Lahore has more in common with a Delhiite than a person from madras, North Indians share the same food, culture , movies , jokes and languages with most of Pakistanis.

The difference is what they believed the idea of a nation is , one in the name of a  religion and one in the name of all religions.

India cannot be made into another Pakistan, the writing is on the wall.

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