Six young Delhiites living in London share the horror of what it’s like to survive a week of non-stop rioting in their city
24; social worker based in Putney Hill
On Monday evening, we were shopping at the Portobello market — fortunately, we changed our minds on eating out that night. When we got home, we heard that one of our favourite haunts, The Ledbury which is a Michelin star restaurant, had been looted. I couldn’t help but compare the responses of police in London and back home in India. I thought, where are the rubber bullets? The teargas? The army? The riots are just purposeless. The PM called for a parliament session on Thursday. It’s as if he’s was telling the rioters, “here’s two more days, do what you can until we come and get you”.
26; student in Streatham Hill
Never have I seen so much police patrolling the streets of London. You can tell people are in a condition of panic, and dread leaving their houses. Travelling by bus, I could see almost all of the shops broken and looted — they didn’t even spare Domino’s and McDonald’s, I wondered what they looted from there! These past two days, work was particularly nerve-racking. When rioters were five minutes from our office, my colleagues and I started discussing the ways we could flee from there.
23; student from Gloucester Road
On Tuesday morning, the police sirens replaced alarm clocks. All grocery shops which were open 24 hours were shut down. The only supermarket that was open had a mob of buyers in front of it. Even though the queue was endless, I decided to stock up because I didn’t know how long this was going to last. I saw police vans lined up outside my college gate. I am so proud of how the Indian community in Southall is taking it. I heard one of them say on the radio: ‘’Get the cricket bats out! If they come here, we will defend ourselves’.’
29; IT analyst based in Feltham
Regular emails from our company’s communication department keep us updated about which areas in London are safe, and which ones to avoid. This is London’s worst nightmare. There is a sense of tension and uncertainty everywhere. One of my colleagues stays only 200 yards away from the Sony warehouse, that was burned. Looters are quiet in the day, but towards the evening, when they know they can harm more people, they get active.
23; journalist based in Mile End
It’s been four days and frankly, the motive for the riots is still unclear. You see police vans parked everywhere and 12-13 year olds partaking in the thuggery... People are torching buildings at random — residential blocks, restaurants, shops, everything. A friend who lives in one of the badly affected areas says two buildings in his block have been torched. People around certain areas have been asked to work from home... My parents have been calling every day to check if I am okay... and they are really worried.
26; HR associate based in Clapham
On Sunday, at around 11:30pm, I got onto a bus to get back home. Twenty minutes later, the driver announced that he would not go any further. We started getting off the bus and walking out, and saw that cops in riot gear were blocking the road. The night was long and uneasy. The next day, the riots reached our locality and Debenhams and Currys, our local stores, were being looted! We were too scared to go out and kept checking our doors and windows. Soon, all we could hear was police car sirens and helicopters.