UK vows to fight back to crush unrest amid riots

Last Updated: Friday, August 12, 2011 - 00:52

London: UK Prime Minister David Cameron
vowed to "fight back" to crush the unrest that spread to
central and northern cities from London, even as the focus on
checking violence tonight shifted to Birmingham, where the
killing of three Asian-origin men generated racial tensions.

Manchester too saw a London-style heavy police presence.
Tensions led to early closure of shops and offices amidst
fears of renewed violence, reports from the city said.

Vowing not to allow "a culture of fear" to take over the
streets, Cameron said water cannons -- never used in mainland
UK -- would now be made available to police, apart from
plastic bullets, to deal with violence after four nights of
rioting and looting by hooded youths who ransacked stores and
torched vehicles.

The police and the law enforcement agencies would not be
short of resources and would have the full backing of the
state behind them, he said, announcing "We needed a fightback
and a fightback is under way."

Authorities maintained the police strength of 16,000 in
London, which has so far led to an uneasy calm. The courts
were working all out to deal with the nearly 800 individuals
arrested over the last four days no one had been granted
bail so far.

Outside a gurdwara in Southall in west London, Sikhs
vowed to protect their place of worship from the rioters.
The killing of three young British Asians in Birmingham
by a speeding car while they were trying to protect their
community from rioters generated racial tensions. Residents
warned that if speedy justice were not delivered, things could
get out of hand.

Reports from Birmingham said there was intense anger
among the Asian community as leader tried to calm passions.
There is a history of clashes between the Asians and
Afro-Caribbean communities in Birmingham, the last being in
2005.

The victims, brothers Shazad Ali and Abdul Mussavir, 32
and 30, and Haroon Jahan, 21, were among some 80 young men who
turned out after a gang tried to ransack a petrol station on
Monday night.

West Midlands police are treating the incident as murder
and have arrested a man near the scene and recovered a
vehicle. Haroon Jahan`s father appealed for calm as huge
crowds of angry Asians gathered near the place where the three
were mowed down.

Though a massive police presence ensured that London
remained calm now, the copycat riots spread to cities of
Manchester, Salford, Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Nottingham,
Leicester and Birmingham.

Prime Minister David Cameron chaired another meeting of
the government emergency committee and said the police will
continue their tough approach towards rioting.

A more detailed statement will be made in the House of
Commons when it reconvenes tomorrow for a special session to
discuss the riots that have blighted Britain`s image abroad
and raised questions about its ability to hold a trouble-free
Olympics next year.

"This continued violence is simply not acceptable, and it
will be stopped. We will not put up with this in our country.

We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets.
We needed a fightback and a fightback is underway," Cameron
said.

Rejecting concerns about human rights that prevent
publication of photographs of suspects as "phoney", he said
the government was determined to bring the full force of law
on the perpetrators of violence, and noted that courts were
working overnight for speedy disposal of cases.

Cameron said: "We will not let any phoney concerns about
human rights get in the way of the publication of these
pictures [of suspects] and the apprehension of these
individuals....We have seen the worst of Britain but also the
best of Britain with millions of people who have signed up on
Facebook to support the polie and the people who volunteered
for clean ups".

He added: "There are parts of our society that are not
just broken but frankly sick. When we see children of 12 or 13
looting it`s clear there are things that are badly wrong in
our society".

According to him, there was a "a complete lack of
responsibility" in some parts of British society.

"People are allowed to feel the world owes them something
and that their actions don`t have consequences. Some parts of
society are not just broken, but sick...Right now the priority
is still clear - we will take every action necessary to bring
order to our streets", Cameron said.

In Birmingham, groups of residents in Winson Green, the
inner-city area where the men were killed, openly warned of
inter-communal violence if the murder inquiry fails to produce
rapid results.

Their anger was passed on by the local Labour MP for
Ladywood, Shabana Mahmood, and the Bishop of Aston, Rev
Anthony Watson, who joined a meeting at a mosque, which locals
claimed was on looters` hit-list of targets where money might
be found.

The bishop warned of possible reprisals and events
"potentially having an ugly race dimension".

Haroon`s father Jahan said: "He was trying to help his
community and he has been killed. He was a very well-liked
kid. I can`t describe to anybody what it feels like to lose a
son. He was the youngest of three, and anything I ever wanted
done, I would always ask Haroon to sort it out for me. A day
from now, maybe two days from now, the whole world will forget
and nobody will care."

Calling for calm and no attempt at revenge, he said: "I
don`t blame the government, I don`t blame the police, I don`t
blame nobody. It was his destiny and his fate, and now he`s
gone."

Long queues of friends and relatives waited outside the
house to pay their respects as other family members spoke of
the tragedy. Numbers increased in the early afternoon, in
spite of the onset of rain which police hoped would deter a
third night of violence.

In Leicester, a group of up to 100 youths attacked shops
and threw items at police, with 13 arrests.

In London, armed with swords and hockey sticks, over 700
Sikhs took to the streets last night to protect the Guru Singh
Sabha gurdwara in Southall as the police were stretched to
maintain law and order on the streets of London.

Local vigilante groups have been formed in various areas
in London to protect homes and business establishments that
have been vandalised by rioters - mainly of Afro-Caribbean
origin - in London over the past four days.

Cameron said he would make a statement in the Parliament
tomorrow as it meets for a day-long session to discuss the
conflagration that has blighted Britain`s image and raised
questions over the security for next year`s Olympics.

In London where increased police presence brought back
calm, a Downing Street spokesperson said the higher police
numbers and tough police tactics last night had clearly
worked.

"There`s a will to continue with that level of policing
for as long as is needed."

The strength of police in London was increased from 6,000
to 16,000 with orders to deal with any incidence of rioting
and violence in a tough manner. London wore a deserted look
from last evening with offices and shops closed earlier than
usual.

A total of 770 people have been arrested and 167 charged,
with 81 held last night.

There were indications that the government will reverse
its decision to cut police budget that would have meant lower
number of police officers on the streets of London. London
mayor Boris Johnson said: "This is not a time to think about
making substantial cuts in police numbers."

PTI



First Published: Friday, August 12, 2011 - 00:52
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