top of page

'India’s press are still claiming a Hindutva connection to the Leicester mobs when there is none'.

The first of a two-part series written by British analyst Chris Blackburn on what he saw during the mob violence in Leicester.

There’s a major problem with Indian media. Recent attacks on Hindus in Leicester, a city in the heart of England, and violent protest and counter protests from the city’s Muslims and Hindus have opened up a pandoras box of mystery and international intrigue. I strongly believe that media focussed on India are the main source of the problem. Their sloppy attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi have gone nowhere. So, they have now been pushing Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s ‘anti-Hindutva campaign’ which has the worrying side effect of tarnishing Hindus across the world. A very horrible by-product. As we head towards the India general election of 2024 this dangerous trend is likely to increase in frequency. There have been attacks on Hindus in Queens, New York.

People have been literally tipping over cars looking for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Hindutva bogeymen in Leicester spurred on by The Guardian, The New York Times and a whole host of Congress-supporting press in India.

Hindutva has two meanings. It’s a religious term for Hindus who feel an essence or reawakening of their religiosity and a term for faith-based politics and the passion it creates. But the media didn’t find any bogeymen, British press debunked the RSS connection, but India’s liberal press are still claiming a Hindutva connection to the warring mobs when there really is none.

Now Leicester is no stranger to cricket hooliganism or wild religious hoaxes. In 2017, Pakistan won a cricket match against India, an excellent match which was played at The Oval cricket ground in London. Opposing cricket fans in Leicester got too excited, and the police got called in. It looked like a smaller scale version of recent mob violence in Leicester. It took place in the exact same streets and roads as the recent chaos.

Now onto the religious hoaxes, King Richard III was buried in Leicester’s Greyfriars Church after the War of the Roses in the 15th Century. Legend has it that his body was taken out of its Leicestershire tomb and thrown or ‘cast’ into the River Soar in an act of defiance by angry mobs. There were also tales of the burial site being desecrated when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. Greyfriars Church did get knocked down- that part was true. Poor Richard’s skeleton was said to have been dug up, picked up and thrown to the four winds. But the reality was poor Richard was found exactly where he was originally buried. The poor guy hadn’t moved an inch since 1485. Tall, fabricated stories seem to be part of Leicester’s DNA.

The recent fake stories of a mosque attack, an assault on a Muslim lollipop man (a British term for a road crossing attendant) and the kidnapping of a young Muslim girl have gone rather dark in nature compared to King being dumped in a local river. These lies helped to incite violence. Blood was spilt. They were deliberate lies to incite Muslims to go on the rampage. Leicester is still paying the price.

The crisis in Leicester started due to an angry Asia Cup 2022. On 28th August, India beat Pakistan in the cricket it helped to open up some really deep wounds in the heart of England. Indian cricket fans, hyped up on the win, were being obnoxious. They were so obnoxious a local Sikh man, who had had too many drinks, grabbed a tiranga, India’s tricolour flag, from a rowdy cricket fan and tried to stamp on it. It caused a scuffle, but no real problem. Indian cricket fans then proceeded to chant, 'Pakistan Murdabad'. The chants didn’t go down very well. Screaming, 'Death to Pakistan' is not exactly conducive to harmonious community relations in a culturally and ethnically diverse area. The cricket hooligans kept up their rowdy behaviour until their hangovers started to kick in. But it wasn’t over.

The following night, after the blatant hooliganism was shared on social media. Muslims were up in arms. Literally. A Muslim knifeman proceeded to go and attack innocent Hindu homes that had nothing to do with the cricket. The video of the knifeman slashing and stabbing his way around Leicester’s red brick terraced streets until the police could get there to arrest him was widely shared. Sunny Hundal, a British journalist that has previously complained about the rise of Hindutva, posted videos of the dangerous escalation. But what caused the disproportionate response from the Muslim knifeman?

Dr. Chris Allen, a local academic that specialises on Islamophobia highlighted the Hindutva bogeyman in his article for The Conversation. But instead of discounting it. He hyped it up for what can only be seen as rampant opportunism- he blamed the Hindus protesting the escalation of violence as being the actual escalation. Rather mischievous in my view. Allen works for Leicester University’s Criminology Department. It’s quite amazing how he climbed on and rode the hoax, not the facts. Both The Guardian, Leicester Police and the BBC poured cold water on most of the misinformation, but Dr. Allen is defending it by omitting it completely. Instead, he blames bogeymen, and the Hindu protest against the knife attack (also omitted). I doubt Leicestershire Police will be using his services and the universities anytime soon. Trusted voices are needed. Missing the growing trend of cricket related violence following India versus Pakistan cricket matches in Leicester are what his colleagues should be looking at, not the spectre of Hindutva. If your job is to study crime and community order and you live in Leicester… they’re doing a poor job.

An overlooked part of the problem is centred around shady academia and religion. Pakistani academic, Ayesha Siddiqa was probably the bravest by saying the British establishment had deliberately imported radicals into the UK for Cold War covert action. She got the timeline slightly wrong in her article, but Leicester is certainly the home to Jamaat-i-Islami’s European base. The Islamic Foundation in Markfield, just seven miles outside of Leicester, was used for propagating Maulana al-Mawdudi’a radical branch of Islamism since the 1970s. Mawdudi’s thought also led to the radical Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Popular Front of Indian which has recently been banned for ties to extremists. Pakistan’s ISI was flooded with Jamaat-i-Islami supporting officers in the 1980s as General Zia-ul-Haq tried to unite Pakistan with radical Islam.

Mawdudi’s magnum opus is a book 'Jihad in Sabilillah', which calls for Muslims to reject western life and democracy. Mawdudi calls for Muslims to have a revolutionary outlook like fascists in the 1930s. So, there is a lot going on in Leicester’s centres of learning. Not all of it is positive for community relations or policing. The late Qazi Hossain Ahmad, one of Jamaat’s major political figures and a disciple of Mawdudi is called the “Godfather of Modern Jihad” by the Pakistani press because of his support to radical causes. Ahmad was Osama bin Laden’s second mentor after Abdullah Azzam of the Muslim Brotherhood. After 9/11, the mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other al-Qaeda leaders were arrested in homes belonging to members of Jamaat in Pakistan. So, it’s hardly surprising Mawdudi’s ultimate dream is causing eruptions in the city Jamaat used to call its European home.

So, Brits now had a mini religious war on our hands. Normally, Glasgow is the centre of sectarian trouble in the UK. Catholics and Protestants in Scotland routinely joust with each other like they are trying to recreate The Battle of Bosworth Field, the battle which killed poor King Richard III. Leicester was now rocking with religious tension as the rest of the country were in mourning because another British Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II had just died. Luckily that burial was televised with much dignity, unlike the cruel hoaxes about Richard III floating down a river.

Hindus and Muslims nearly ended up killing each other. Twenty-six police officers and one of their dogs were injured. It would be a dark comedy if it didn’t create such a haunting effect on all communities involved. People I’ve spoken to are sick with anxiety and fear. Nausea and panic are creating real problems. It will take a while to shake it off.

So, after much trepidation, I decided to travel down to Leicester to see what all the fuss was about. As someone who regularly gets called an Islamophobe despite tweeting inspiring quotes from the Quran and also gets called a Hinduphobe despite receiving a letter of acknowledgment for my work from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was raised in the Hindutva ideology of the RSS. I think I’m uniquely qualified to stick my oar into the middle of this hornet’s nest.

I must confess, I’ve been rather busy on Twitter hammering journalists like Amrit Wilson, an Indian scholar, Marxist, and writer who proudly displays Kashmir as her Twitter profile photos provocatively declared to The Wire that 'RSS had bussed in protestors'. If she’d bothered to read British liberal newspapers and the BBC, she’d have known it was a fabrication - a hoax. The search for the RSS bogeyman hasn’t gone away, but how did it appear? People seem to want it to be there. Willing it. Which suggest something else is going on. So, I went to Leicester to find out.

Stay tuned for the second part of this essay.

761 views0 comments
bottom of page