Hindus caught in backlash after July 7 terror attacks

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The Independent Online

A rising number of Hindus are the victims of hate crimes, partly as a backlash from the London suicide bombings, Britain's largest Hindu organisation has said.

A telephone hotline to report attacks is being set up to help the 700,000 Hindus in this country.

Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said "hate crime" incidents ranged from verbal and physical attacks on worshippers to graffiti and vandalism at Hindu temples. In one of the most recent attacks, paving slabs with swastikas scratched on them were thrown through the windows at a hall in Basingstoke, Hampshire, while a religious meeting was taking place.

Mr Kallidai said there was evidence that Hindus and their temples had been targeted after the July 7 bomb attacks in London, even though the terrorists had been Muslim.

The Hindu Forum, which represents 260 Hindu organisations in Britain, has arranged security training for volunteers to prevent attacks at Hindu temples.

Hindu groups are pressing the Home Office and police to keep separate records of religiously motivated attacks on Hindus. At present the figures are collected only for racial groups.

The British Crime Survey found that the number of racially motivated incidents in England and Wales has quadrupled since 1993 to about 50,000.

Mr Kallidai said: "After 7/7 there was an increase in attacks on Hindus because of mistaken identity. For almost 90 per cent of the south Asian community you cannot tell which religion a particular person belongs to."

The "hate crime" hotline, due to start later this year, could also incorporate a service aimed at young people and is modelled on the success of the Muslim Youth Helpline.

The introduction of the service will coincide with a campaign to encourage Hindus to report hate crime.

Britain's Hindu population is based mainly in the London and Leicester areas, and in parts of Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Wolverhampton and Coventry.

Most Hindus in Britain are of Gujarati, Punjabi or Tamil ethnic origin.