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British teenagers charged with murdering Kolkata-born man

world Updated: Sep 09, 2009 16:40 IST

Four British teenagers have been charged in connection with the murder of a retired Kolkata-born man who died in hospital this week after an apparently unprovoked assault.

Emran ul Haque, 67, died of injuries on Monday after being set upon by a group of teenagers on his way home from the local mosque in the south London neighbourhood of Tooting.

His three-year-old granddaughter who was with him was unhurt in the August 31 attack that police said could have had a racial motive.

Four teenagers appeared in youth court on Tuesday and three of them - a 15-year-old and two 14-year-olds - were charged with murder.

The fourth boy, aged 12 was charged with conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm and two counts of assault.

All four, who cannot be named because of their young age, were remanded in custody and ordered to re-appear at the court on October 6. British media have previously said all the attackers were black.

Meanwhile, local newspapers said tributes have poured in for Haque, who left his native Kolkata for the city of Belfast in 1972 before moving to London, where he worked as a care worker in a home for the disabled.

The local MP Sadiq Khan, who visited Haque in hospital, said: “Ekram was a lovely gentle man. He did huge amounts of community work asking for nothing in return. I worked with him on a number of matters over the last few years and he still had so much to offer.

“His premature death is a tragic loss to his family but also to the wider Tooting community who were richer for his activism and are now much poorer from his death.”

A spokesman at the Idara-e-Jafferiya mosque said: “He was a member of our community for 25 to 30 years. He was at the mosque at every occasion but for the last two to three years he has been coming with his granddaughter.

“He was a quiet man, easy to talk to and we never saw him angry. He was an humble person.”

The deputy mayor of Kingston, Councillor Shiraz Mirza, who also worships at the mosque, said: “He was a lovely man, he would always ask about people and even children who knew him would call him uncle.

“When my relative was going to university and was looking for accommodation he said he had friends in the area and gave him a number. That is the kind of guy he was.”

Police, who have linked the attack with at least two other similar assaults on elderly South Asian men, said they were treating it as “racially aggravated”.

Detective Chief Inspector John McFarlane, who is leading a team probing other incidents involving teenage gangs, said: “There may have been other incidents that have not been reported to police, so we urge anybody who has been attacked to get in touch.”