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No Hindutva or RSS extremism involved in Leicester violence: Report

LONDON: The first report into the cause of the recent Hindu-Muslim clashes in Leicester and Birmingham has found no evidence of any Hindutva or RSS extremism. Instead, the report by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) UK think tank has concluded that a group of social media influencers, some with links to terrorism, peddled this fake narrative to stir up tensions and instigate the violence.
The report, published on the HJS website and written by Charlotte Littlewood, a research fellow at HJS and former counter-extremism coordinator, said that a fake narrative of “RSS terrorists” being behind the unrest was peddled by social media influencers to rally Muslims from across the UK to attend the protests. One influencer with over 800,000 followers posted a video of himself leading a group through Leicester captioned “Muslim patrol in Leicester” and called on Muslims to “defend themselves against Hindu fascism”.
Littlewood found that the unrest was the result of a “micro-community cohesion issue” between Muslim and Hindu youth in Leicester “holding prejudicial attitudes towards one another” which was “falsely presented as an issue of organised Hindutva extremism and terrorism”.
Another with 150,000 followers spread fake news at the time that Hindus had kidnapped a Muslim girl. He had earlier boasted on social media that he was involved with D Company in Pakistan and praised Dawood Ibrahim.
Another influencer — consistently afforded a platform by UK media to peddle the narrative that Hindutva played a role in Leicester — has previously offered prayers for the brother of an ISIS fighter and to the Taliban.
One of the lead agitators against LGBT teaching in schools, who led the protests against the screening of the Lady of Heaven film, played a key role in inciting the crowd that surrounded the Hindu temple in Birmingham, the report said.
Convicted hate preacher Anjem Choudary and the banned group Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose aim is to re-establish the Islamic Caliphate, also publicly linked the Leicester unrest to Hindutva.
For some time, there has been a territorial issue between recently arrived members of the Daman and Diu community, many of whom hold Portuguese passports, and the local Muslim community, she notes. The Daman and Diu community moved into a predominantly Muslim area of East Leicester and tend to hold boisterous and raucous celebrations of Hindu festivals with music and alcohol continuing late into the night, which upset some of their Muslim neighbours.
Police are investigating allegations of both sides engaging in name-calling, threats of violence and assaults. But there is “no evidence of involvement of any organised Hindu extremist or terrorist groups,” her report states.
But false allegations linking Hindus to “Hindutva” led to Hindu cars and properties being attacked, attacks on a Hindu festival and Hindu businesses being boycotted.
It was because of this that local Daman and Diu men organised a “Hindu neighbourhoods safety march” on September 17 to show they had a right to live safely in their neighbourhood. But that descended into violence when hundreds of Muslims showed up, spurred on by the influencers.
Many Hindus have since had to remove Hindu symbols from their cars and doors. Some were temporarily unable to return to their homes, Littlewood wrote.
The men who organised the Hindu march had their photos splashed across social media with the words “Hindutva terrorists” even though had no relation to the RSS or BJP and no understanding of Indian politics, the report said.
“False allegations of RSS terrorists and Hindutva extremist organisations active in the UK have put the wider Hindu community at risk from hate, assault and vandalism,” the report notes.

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