Shambhavi Thakur

By Aban Usmani / News Laundry

As British media coverage remained clouded by an unprecedented boost in sales and record-breaking broadcasts brought forth by a royal funeral, clashes between cricket fans gradually brewed into communal violence and an international story in Leicester.

The Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom has now condemned the vandalism of a temple and Hindu religious symbols following pro-Hindutva mobilisation and sloganeering around Muslim businesses in the East Midlands city. While the Leicester mayor has flagged the role of disinformation on social media, more than 15 people have been arrested so far over the violence whose seeds are believed to have been sown with an India Pakistan cricket match on August 28.

But as the facts of the episodes remain unclear, media reports offer a clue to what might have led to the sharp flare-up in tensions in the multiracial city, where, according to the 2011 census, Muslims form 18.63 percent of the population while Hindus comprise 15.19 percent. Only around 50 percent of the population is British White in a city that has become a hub of Asian migration over the decades.

Guardian report, meanwhile, quoted Gurharpal Singh, a visiting fellow at the University at Leicester, who said “Indian media outlets had reported in Leicester in highly communal terms”, and that underlying socio-economic tensions get exacerbated by fringe groups using “communal discourse”.

But how did the British press report on the episodes, and did Indian media actually report the issue in inflammatory terms?

Pakistan’s cricket defeat and ‘racist slogans’

The Leicester Mercury, a regional newspaper, reported that a man and a police officer were assaulted when Indian cricket team fans gathered in Belgrave after Pakistan’s defeat in the Asia Cup match on August 28. A video clip of the assault contained “offensive anti-Pakistan chants”, it said.

Officers warned the public to avoid the area but it was not the first such warning over a cricket match in Leicester. In June 2017, six police officers were injured in a clash between fans of the Indian and Pakistani cricket teams.

The BBC report on the clash on August 28 also did not mention any communal identifiers but pointed to “racist and hateful chanting” on videos circulated on social media. The British network mentioned that the police were treating it as a “hate crime”.

The Mirror, on the other hand, reported a “huge brawl” without any communal identifiers.

This story was originally published in . Read the full story here