A group of women leaders of South Asian heritage based in Leicester has come together to fight back against what they termed “senseless violence” on their city’s streets between men from Hindu and Muslim communities in the wake of an India-Pakistan cricket match.
In a joint appeal on Saturday, the community leaders and local politicians from the eastern England region described Leicester as a great place to live and work and called for solutions to the “hate-filled violence”.
According to local media reports, they gathered outside the Town Hall in the centre of Leicester where Indian-origin councillor Rita Patel read out a joint statement.
"We as Asian women from Leicester, call upon the people of this city to rally together and oppose the senseless violence that has torn apart our community over the last week. We condemn those perpetrating hate and violence in our city – you will not succeed in dividing us,” the statement read.
As your grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters and friends we have come together in collective solidarity to say no to the “senseless violence that has plagued our great city in recent weeks and left many people injured,” it said, adding that as a result, whole neighbourhoods and entire families, particularly women, children and elders are now living in fear.
"It is now time for solutions. We therefore, ask the women of Leicester to join us in taking action and bringing out communities together once again. As strong proud Asian women, we know that when Leicester is united, it can never be defeated. Leicester, united as one," it added.
Their plea came as Leicestershire Police announced that “proactive and high-visibility patrols” will continue on the streets of Leicester into next week, when Navratri festivities are set to begin.
The police have charged a total of eight people related to the incidents of violence over the course of this month, including for possession of offensive weapons and making threats to kill.
“Following evenings of calm on the city’s streets this week, the proactive and high-visibility patrols will continue all over the weekend and into next week, ahead of the start of Navratri on Monday,” the police force said.
“What happened in east Leicester last weekend is not what we want on our streets – and we won’t tolerate it. The tensions being felt by the communities are very real and are multi-faceted in their origins, but one thing is clear and that is that violence is not the answer,” said Leicestershire Police Temporary Chief Constable Rob Nixon.
He pointed to the visit to the police headquarters of UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman earlier this week and several ongoing discussions with local groups to address the “root cause” of the clashes.
The police have made 47 arrests and charges are being filed gradually as a 50-strong investigative team probes around 158 crimes and reviews over 6,000 hours of police officers’ body-worn video, CCTV and social media videos.
Last weekend saw some of the worst clashes dubbed as “serious disorder” by the local police, with social media videos showing footage of glass bottles being hurled between groups of men and religious symbols being attacked.
The Indian High Commission in London had strongly condemned the violence perpetrated against the Indian community and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also raised the safety concerns during a meeting with his UK counterpart Foreign Secretary James Cleverly at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.