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The BBC's Barnie Choudhury
"There are reports that families are leaving the area, too afraid to remain"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Bradford intimidation claims denied
Burnt out cars
Parts of Bradford were the scene of rioting last month
By social affairs reporter Barnie Choudhury

Allegations that Hindu families are being driven out of their homes by young Muslims in Bradford have been disputed by local community leaders.

West Yorkshire police have confirmed they are aware that tensions between some members of the two communities exist.

But Muslim leaders have strongly denied that attempts have been made to exclude Hindus from some areas of the city, saying such behaviour would not be tolerated.

Violence flared between Asian and white youths last month in the Lidget Green area leading to rioting and criminal damage to properties and cars.


This is really a demographic, systematic, ethnic cleansing

Hasmukh Shah,
Vishwa Hindu Parishad
The latest allegations are being made by Hasmukh Shah, one of 12 international trustees of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) - a high profile worldwide Hindu organisation.

Critics say it is a right wing fundamentalist movement - a charge which the VHP denies.

During last month's riots, Mr Shah's pharmacy was allegedly firebombed and he says it will cost 750,000 to rebuild.

He believes the attack came from Muslim youths, targeting him because of his religion.

Warning

He says over the past 10 years he has seen the Hindu population in some areas of Bradford fall from 5,000 to about 500.


Violence, intimidation - no matter where it comes from - is to be condemned

Ishtiaq Ahmed, Bradford Council of Mosques
"This is a clear warning to the home secretary and the police that if they do not want the streets of British cities to become like Taleban-controlled Afghanistan then they have to take immediate action," he said.

"This is really a demographic, systematic ethnic cleansing."

It is a claim vehemently denied by Muslim leaders who say violence is not tolerated.

Ishtiaq Ahmed, general secretary of the Bradford Council of Mosques said: "There isn't any real friction between Hindus and Muslims.

"These communities live together, work together and they are neighbours living in the same areas.

"Violence, intimidation - no matter where it comes from - as far as I'm concerned, it is to be condemned."

'No exodus'

But some Hindus report that they feel intimidated in their neighbourhoods, with some elderly residents complaining they are threatened and jostled by Muslim youths.

Others said they were moving out of areas such as Lidget Green because they felt vulnerable.

However West Yorkshire police Assistant Chief Constable Greg Wilkinson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme some Hindus had left certain areas, but not in large numbers.

"I certainly don't see any evidence of an exodus. There always will be movement of communities - communities move to improve their lot."

But he added: "If people do feel they are being driven out we want to know about that, we want to work with them."

Mr Wilkinson said he believed that the problem of "disenfranchised youth" lay behind the recent disorder, adding: "I don't think we can excuse it on ethnic tension".

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