Thursday, 17 January 2013


This article appears on the front page of today's Leicester Mercury:

Peace talks held after rampage at restaurant
Police and faith leaders met last night to find ways of easing tensions after the ransacking of a Muslim-owned restaurant by a 40-strong Sikh mob.
The city's top officers sat with representatives from Leicester Council of Faiths to discuss the apparently orchestrated attack by a vigilante gang at the Moghul Durbar restaurant, in East Park Road, Spinney Hills, on Monday night.
Police said they were worried the incident – which they said was fuelled by false rumours – would lead to revenge attacks and escalate as both groups sought retaliation.
City police commander Chief Superintendent Rob Nixon said Monday's attack was sparked by misinformation regarding the rape of a teenage Sikh girl.
"We are aware of a number of rumours and misinformation which is circulating within the communities in Leicester," he told the Mercury.
"Firstly, a rumour that a Sikh girl has been raped and Leicestershire Police has done nothing despite being in possession of video evidence of that rape. This is not true.
"Reports that a Sikh girl has been snatched from outside a gurdwara in Leicester are also false.
"As part of a separate investigation, officers are speaking with a girl and her family in relation to concerns her family have raised for her welfare. We are unable to comment further on this investigation.
"Leicestershire Police urges members of the community not to listen to rumour or speculate about the incident."
Workers and diners were injured when a frenzied mob piled into the restaurant on Monday evening, smashing doors and windows.
Three men were still in hospital last night, in a stable condition.
Within an hour of the attack, police had arrested six Leicester men in connection with the incident.
Yesterday morning, magistrates granted the police an extension, which means officers can detain the suspects for questioning for up to 96 hours from arrest, after which they must be charged or released.
Police met members of the Sikh and Muslim communities at Mansfield House police station, in the city centre, yesterday evening, to discuss ways to relieve the tension within the Spinney Hills community. Assistant city mayor Manjula Sood, who is chairman of Leicester Council of Faiths, was at the meeting.
She said: "Both the Sikh and Muslim communities are anxious, but they must trust the police to sort this matter out.
"We should not let this one incident destroy everything we have worked to build over all these years. Police have been in touch with all the religious communities and we are meeting to see how we can resolve this issue safely and without any more incidents."
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said he had been in contact with the police and reiterated their call for calm.
"Something of this sort is worrying and distressing, but it's important to make the point of how unusual it is for something like this to happen in Leicester," he said. "And a lot of people have been left scratching their heads, wondering how it ever happened in the first place.
"We have to make sure that this does not go any further and the police are allowed to do their job."
Officers have been visiting places of worship, businesses and members of the community to reassure them the attack was an isolated incident.
Nosheen Awan, who runs designer clothing shop Rima's, a few doors away from the Moghul Durbar restaurant, said: "There have been a lot of rumours going around. It's hard to know what to believe.
"We haven't been open long and it's scary to know that something like this has happened."
Anyone with information relating to the incident can call police on 101.
Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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