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Indian, Pakistani students face racial abuse in UK

Nearly 500 students who had come to celebrate Diwali and Eid in Plymouth were subjected to racist attacks.

india Updated: Nov 18, 2005 12:50 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

A group of students from India and Pakistan studying in Plymouth was set upon by a gang of white youths in the latest incident of racist attacks in Britain.

Nearly 500 students from the Indian sub-continent had come together to jointly celebrate Diwali and Eid in Plymouth over the last weekend but were subjected to racist abuse and glass bottles were hurled at them by a group of white youths as they left the venue.

The local police in areas where such incidents have occurred have taken prompt action. In Plymouth, the South Asian Society, organisers of the event, promised to continue holding such events next year.

Plymouth's top policeman, chief superintendent Morris Watts, was at the event alongside the MP of Plymouth Sutton, Linda Gilroy, and other dignitaries.

Gilroy said after the disturbances: "It's the equivalent of us being attacked outside our Christmas party.

"The Devon and Cornwall police, under Morris Watts' leadership, takes these incidents very seriously and I am sure will tackle it in a robust manner."

Jon McKenzie, trustee of the South Asian Society, said: "Why should a small racist group prevent people from different cultures coming together for a festival which is in effect their Christmas?

"It raises questions about safety and risk management, but last year the event went ahead without incident," he said.

McKenzie said there had been a marked rise in racist crime in the city after the July 7 bombings, but the Diwali and Eid celebration was about cultures - British and Asian - coming together to share an evening of entertainment, music, food and fun.

He said: "All of those who attended, which included civic dignitaries, police officers, people from the voluntary and statutory sectors and families, said it was one of the best events they had ever been to in Plymouth because of its difference. It was a real extravaganza.

"The overwhelming majority of people in Plymouth are tolerant. Different races and religions co-exist in a positive, peaceful and respectful way.

"The thugs are a small minority whose actions insult the hundreds of Plymothians who attended the event."

Some of the victims of the attack had only been in the city for a couple of months and most were university students from India and Pakistan.

Pamela Kaur, one of the organisers, said: "It's not a nice feeling. You don't feel secure. We don't disturb anybody, we are very happy with each other. We should not be made targets."

A rise in racist incidents after July has been reported also in Cardiff, Wales. Figures show a 60 per cent jump in such incidents in August and September.

However, the local police believe the figures did not mean that racial tensions were growing.

Police superintendent Josh Jones said Cardiff had a long history of welcoming immigrants and promised to provide a "robust and uncompromising response" working with the Crime Prosecution Service lawyers who specialise in racially motivated crime.

Much of the rise, the police believe, is due to increased reporting of racist crimes.

First Published: Nov 18, 2005 12:50 IST