Beaten, but unbowed

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Anoup Kajla fears he is risking his life by putting himself on the front line in the fight against racial harassment.

But as one of three Hounslow Monitoring Project workers funded by the council, he is willing to take that risk to stem the increase in attacks in Hounslow. He was severely beaten by 15 white youths in December 1989 while minding his uncle's off-licence.

'They beat me with baseball bats and put me in hospital for five days with ruptured kidneys. 'I thought I was going to lose my sight. I've seen things as bad as they can get.'

The gang was eventually caught and the ringleader found guilty of assault charges.

However, the family was further humiliated when he was sentenced to a community service order and not prison. That was only one of many attacks on the shop during more than a year of harassment.

Youths regularly smashed the windows and goods inside, littering the floor with British Movement 'calling cards'. Anoup's uncle was also beaten up as he closed the shop one night.

By then he had become used to running a daily gauntlet of verbal abuse.

The gang used to congregate outside and intimidate customers, at one stage trying to implement a shop boycott.

Suresh Grover, of the project, said he remembers a Ku Klux Klan atmosphere. 'Some nights we would be surrounded by 15 to 20 youths and we knew we could be set upon at any time. The gang used to operate from the community centre opposite the shop, so they knew when people were coming and going.'

Anoup, 22, a student, is adamant that things must change and is eager to play his part. 'I see what other people go through and I see they can do nothing about it,' he said.

He knows of many families who have suffered physical abuse at the hands of whites and others who have insults hurled at them daily. Children are taunted at school and while playing near their homes.

He also sees the racist graffiti marring walls on the housing estates and the degrading effect it has on families living there.

Many have become prisoners in their homes.

'I am reasonably intelligent and I can use my intelligence to help them. I have already risked my life when I was running my uncle's shop, so I'm not worried any more. This has to be done.'

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