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The BBC's Geeta Guru-Murthy
"It is thought the murder could have been racially motivated"
 real 56k

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Ian Johnston
"Two murders are absolutely appalling"
 real 56k

The BBC's Robin Chrystal
"The police are also treating the attack as racist"
 real 28k

The BBC's John Andrew
"Scotland Yard denied that they had a softly softly approach to policing the carnival"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
'Racial motive' for carnival murder
Notting Hill Carnival
New safety and policing measures will be discussed
The murder of an Asian man at this year's Notting Hill Carnival is being treated as racially-motivated, police have revealed.

Officers filmed a group of 50 youths rampaging through the carnival before members of the group murdered 28-year-old graduate, Abdul Bhatti.

The gang were involved in "steaming", a form of robbery which involves large numbers of youths.

The Notting Hill Carnival Trust has offered its sympathy to all the victims of violence at this year's event and said it would work closely with the police to ensure the perpetrators of the violence were brought to justice.

"The Carnival has always embodied peace and harmony and will not tolerate violence in any form or for any reason," a statement read.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said a witness had described how the gang of mainly black males began targeting Asian stall holders with missiles before battering and kicking Mr Bhatti.

Abdul Bhatti, 28
Police says the attack on Abdul Bhatti was unprovoked
His mother and sister broke down at a news conference on Tuesday, as they urged the public help find "the animals" who killed the young salesman from Hounslow, west London.

Mr Bhatti was set upon by the gang in Blenheim Crescent, west London, at around 1930 BST on Bank Holiday Monday, and died later in hospital from his injuries.

'Indiscriminate violence'

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Condon told the Scotland Yard news conference that officers would be examining the video footage taken of the gang by police civilian staff.

"Members of this group were responsible for totally indiscriminate violence, sadly resulting in Abdul's death. This was completely pointless and vicious," said Mr Condon.

Greg Watson with his baby daughter and girlfriend
Greg Watson had just become a father
The Metropolitan Police have now called for a review of the carnival in the wake of the murders of Mr Bhatti and 21-year-old delivery driver Greg Watson, who was stabbed in a separate incident on the same evening.

There were 276 other recorded crimes at the annual event, which attracted a crowd estimated at 1.5 million, and police have been criticised for not intervening enough.

But Ian Johnstone, Assistant Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, told the BBC an 84% increase in arrests "looks like lots of police intervention".

He said the crowds were too large for it to be possible to reach everybody in every situation.

Arrest teams were available where necessary, but "diving as individuals into crowds to intervene would be very very ineffective".

Livingston's plan

London Mayor Ken Livingstone will meet with senior police officers this week to discuss the future running and safety of Notting Hill Carnival.

Proposals expected to be on the agenda include an earlier finishing time to reduce after-dark crime, new policing strategies and moving the event from west London's narrow streets to a more open location.

A rainbow coloured costume
The majority of people were there to enjoy the spectacle
Mr Livingstone, writing in The Independent newspaper on Tuesday, praised the annual festival of Caribbean culture as a testament to London's cultural diversity but said it must not risk becoming a victim of its own success.

"It is that ever-growing popularity which now poses issues of public safety which all of us want to see sensibly resolved," he wrote.

Appeal for witnesses

At Tuesday's news conference, Mr Condon said Mr Bhatti had gone to the carnival with friends and was the subject of a totally unprovoked assault.

Abdul Bhatti's mother and sister
Mr Bhatti's mother (left) and sister wept at the news conference
He said members of the gang had first spotted a gold chain belonging to Mr Bhatti's friend and had robbed him.

When Mr Bhatti tried to help his friend who was being kicked repeatedly on the ground, he was himself attacked on two separate occasions with a final blow to the face rendering him unconscious.

The victim's mother Nasreen said her son, who had studied quality management at Brunel University, was a popular and intelligent young man.

"I can't believe that anyone would want to kill such a lovely boy - he was my only son," she said.

Police are appealing for witnesses and anyone with information should call 020 8358 1753.

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See also:

27 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Revellers flock to carnival
25 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Carnival: The people's party
27 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Carnival time for Notting Hill
31 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Notting Hill - in pictures
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