Indian-origin man dies after 'race attack'
An elderly Kolkata-born man died in a London hospital on Monday after a gang of teenage schoolboys beat him viciously in a suspected race attack.india Updated: Sep 08, 2009 02:16 IST
An elderly Kolkata-born man died in a London hospital on Monday after a gang of teenage schoolboys beat him viciously in a suspected race attack.
Retired care worker Ekram ul Haque, 67, was battered to the ground in front of his five-year-old granddaughter as they returned from a south London mosque.
Three boys, aged 12, 14 and 15, have been charged with assaulting Haque and a man in his 40s - just minutes earlier - in Tooting, a south London neighbourhood that is home to many people from West Bengal and Bangladesh.
Haque's granddaughter Marian was unhurt and was able to give a detailed account of the August 31 incident.
Murder squad detectives have linked the attack with attempted assaults on two other elderly South Asians in Tooting a week earlier and charged the 15-year-old boy in connection with them.
All three attackers are black and wore hooded tops as they carried out their assaults.
Graphic images of the attack were caught on CCTV, and police have had to step up security at the mosque following growing tensions in the local community.
Scotland Yard confirmed that the assault was being treated as "racially motivated".
Haque, a devout Muslim, was returning home after attending evening prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, when the teenagers ran up behind him and clubbed him around the head.
Two other worshippers chased the thugs away but Haque suffered horrific head injuries.
Haque was born in Kolkata and moved to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, in search of work in 1972. He met his wife there and they moved to London in the early 1980s.
He originally worked in textiles but later became a warden in a home for the disabled. He retired last year and was looking after Marian on weekdays.
Haque's 35-year-old son called the attack "mindless violence" but urged people to remain calm.
"I would urge people in our community to remember that Islam is a peaceful religion and does not condone revenge attacks. If you want to do anything, just pray," he said.
Taxi driver Imdad Buhkari told the Evening Standard: "They came down the road and about six of them broke off from the rest and surrounded the two of us.
"They asked me for the time. I said ?I don't wear a watch' and suddenly someone from behind punched me hard on the jaw. Then they hit the old man [the second victim], whose name is Atameer, and ran off.
"I went round the corner and I was shocked when I saw Ekram lying unconscious on the ground. He was bleeding from his mouth and ear. Now he is in a coma. The doctors want to turn off his life support machine but his family say no.
"It is terrible. Who would do such a thing?"