‘RSS, Hindutva not responsible for Leicester riots’: UK think tank

On 4th November 2022, the Henry Jackson Society – a UK-based think tank – released their research report on the anti-Hindu riots that took place in Leicester. The report is titled ‘Hindu-Muslim civil unrest in Leicester: “Hindutva” and the creation of a false narrative’. This report has denied any possible involvement of so-called Hindutva extremism or RSS extremism in the Leicester violence, which was alleged by Islamists and left-liberal media houses. After an Asia Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan on August 28, violence erupted in Leicester, UK. Up to 47 persons were detained for their involvement in the incident.

It is notable that the western media broadly blamed the whole Hindu community in Leicester for this violence under the guise of using terms like Hindutva extremism or RSS extremism. Now, the think tank based in the UK itself has come up with the conclusion that no Hindutva extremism in any angle is found responsible for the riots. Not only this, but the report also mentions that a group of social media influencers, some with links to terrorism, peddled this fake narrative to stir up tensions and instigate violence.

Henry Jackson Society’s (HJS) Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism carried out this research and published the report from their official Twitter handle. The 39-page report is written by Charlotte Littlewood. It mentions that influencers on social media spread a false narrative that “RSS terrorists” were to blame for the violence in order to persuade Muslims from all across the UK to participate in the demonstrations. In a video showing himself leading a group through Leicester, an influencer named Mohammad Hijab with over 800,000 followers urged Muslims to “protect themselves against Hindu fascism” and wrote, “Muslim patrol in Leicester.”

A similar influencer with 150,000 followers propagated false information about Hindus kidnapping a Muslim girl. He had previously bragged on social media about his involvement with Pakistan’s D Company and admired Dawood Ibrahim. Littlewood concluded that the rioting was caused by a “micro-community cohesiveness dispute” involving Muslim and Hindu youngsters in Leicester who “had prejudiced sentiments against one another” and that this dispute had been “falsely portrayed as a problem of organized Hindutva extremism and terrorism.”

This report also noted that another influential person who is regularly provided with a platform by UK media to spread the falsehood that Hindutva was involved in the events in Leicester had previously prayed for the Taliban and the brother of an ISIS member. The demonstrations against the Lady of Heaven movie’s screening were led by one of the main opponents of LGBT education in schools, and she was also instrumental in stirring up the mob that besieged the Hindu temple in Birmingham. Anjem Choudary, a convicted hate preacher, and Hizb ut-Tahrir, a banned organization that seeks to restore the Islamic Caliphate, has also expressly stated linkages between the upheaval in Leicester and Hindu nationalism.

Charlotte Littlewood said in her report, “Evidence of a Hindu nationalist presence in the UK is tenuous. Some organizations have been accused of links to RSS and RSS-linked individuals have visited the UK, this is problematic for community relations and requires further investigation.” She added, “Accusations of RSS terrorists lead to a number of Hindu youth temporarily relocating for their safety. There has never been a Hindu extremist terrorist attack in the UK and the youth in question had no affiliation to RSS.”

An attempt to draw attention to the ill effects of this false reporting was also seen in this report. According to Charlotte Littlewood, it is the Hindu community across the world that had to suffer this negative reporting in some or another way. The accusations of “Hindutva extremism” and “RSS terrorism” in the UK have led to internet hate speeches to violence and anti-Hindu hatred, damage to Hindu temples, reports of assaults against the Hindu community, and individuals who have expressed sympathy for the Hindu community, among other things, she said in the report.

In the concluding part, she also mentioned, “The methods employed have included projections including a false claim of a BJP organized bus, whilst car sharing of anti-Hindutva protestors were in fact taking place; claims of racists, terrorists, extremists, etc; misinformation regarding crimes being committed; attempts to have the uptake of their narrative by the mainstream press and collaborating with political leaders to gain sympathy for their narrative and potentially influence future policy. The successful spread of these claims has led to a security threat posed to the Hindu community and attacks on their places of worship.”

Commenting on how media relied on these Muslim social media influencers for reporting rather than going into the minor details of the incidents, Charlotte Littlewood noted, “The media has at times conflated the issue by regularly relying on influencers included in this report for comment and focusing on an issue of Hindutva extremism and India politics rather than providing nuanced and accurate analysis of the incidents.”

Underlining threats in front of the local community, she further said, “There is a real concern that Majid Freeman is regularly being provided a platform to express his views regarding the presence of Hindutva extremism in the UK and posing as a ‘community leader, meeting with the City of Leicester’s mayor and discussing the future of the upcoming independent review.”

It is notable that the western media portrayed Hindus as the main villains of this violence. Hindus in the UK protested outside the offices of these anti-Hindu media houses. Now that a UK-based research group has published its finding and underlined how Hindutva or RSS had nothing to do with the violence and how it was instigated by Islamist social media influencers, this has exposed the reality of the deliberate anti-Hindu reporting of the incident.

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