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Tensions rise over Leicester violence as India and Pakistan wade into ‘dark episode’

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India and Pakistan have now intervened in the tensions between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester

The governments of India and Pakistan have demanded immediate action by British authorities to tackle ongoing disorder between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester.

A series of increasingly violent clashes between youths from the two communities recently has resulted in 25 police officers being injured and has led to 47 arrests.

Trouble initially flared after a T20 cricket match between India and Pakistan that was played in Dubai on Aug 28.

But locals claim tensions have been simmering for months, fuelled by inflammatory rhetoric coming out of the sub-continent.

Members of the Muslim community in Leicester claim that British-based Hindu nationalists – who are supporters of Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister – have been stoking tensions by marching through their areas chanting racist slogans.

But Hindus in the city have blamed Muslim outsiders who they claim have travelled to Leicester from other cities, including Bradford and Birmingham, to whip up trouble.

Videos posted on social media have further inflamed tensions, with unsubstantiated reports of attacks on local mosques and temples.

The violence, which came to a head on Saturday night, has been front page news in Hindu nationalist-supporting newspapers in India.

Police and community leaders in Leicester have appealed for calm, but there are fears that Tuesday’s interventions from Delhi and Islamabad could further sour fragile relations.

‘We will not stand for this unrest’

In a statement, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said: “We strongly condemn the violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and vandalisation of premises and symbols of Hindu religion.

“We have strongly taken up this matter with the UK authorities and have sought immediate action against those involved in these attacks. We call on the authorities to provide protection to the affected people.”

But the Pakistan High Commission in London also issued a statement that claimed the Muslim community in Leicester was being sujected to Islamophobia.

The statement said: “We strongly condemn the campaign of violence and intimidation that has been unleashed against the Muslims of the area. This is not the first time such Islamophobic incidents have been reported in Leicester.”

The High Commission went on to say it had confidence in the UK authorities to deal with those responsible and called on all communities to “refrain from actions that inflame religious sentiment and undermine societal harmony”.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour MP for Leicester South, described the troubles as a “dark episode” in a city famed for its diversity.

He said: “Attempts to sow division including by those with extremist views will fail and are totally condemned across Leicester.

“We utterly condemn violent incidents on our streets; marches with provocative slogans inciting hate; attacks on places of worship, symbols or religion.”

Rob Nixon, Leicestershire’s temporary chief constable, condemned the involvement from people from outside of the city in the weekend’s violence.

He said: “We will not stand for this unrest in our city. There is an extensive policing operation ongoing, acting on information and reports of gatherings and offering community reassurance.

“Be reassured – we are working to keep you safe and to arrest and bring to justice those that are causing harm in our communities.”

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