How Quddus Ali's ambitions were silently beaten out of him

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The Independent Online

Quddus Ali'S ambition was to become a policeman when he left school. That was seven years ago, before he was beaten and left for dead by a racist gang.

The attack was so savage that it left him with brain damage and a crippled leg. His only ambition now is to be able to walk to the shops and to finish a sentence without slurring his words.

Mr Ali's attackers have never been brought to justice, but last week the Racial and Violent Crimes Task Force of the Metropolitan Police announced that it would re-investigate the case in an inquiry led by the task force's director, Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve.

The attack provoked violent demonstrations by the local community, and four men and a woman were charged by police. But only one stood trial and he was cleared. In the meantime Mr Ali, now 23, has had to live with the appalling consequences of what happened to him.

On 8 September 1993 he went to return a video to a rental shop near his home in Tower Hamlets in the East End of London. His memory of the actual attack is a blank. All that he knows is what he has been told - that seven men and a woman set upon him and, without a word, beat him to the ground and then, as he lay screaming on the pavement, kicked him in the head until he lost consciousness.

"It has affected my speech and my walking," says Mr Ali, who admits to holding a cynical view of the police and their attempts to catch his attackers. "The doctors are not sure if my condition will ever improve. I want to go out and speak to people but because of my speech problems I can't. I just wish things were normal."

Hanging on the living room wall of Mr Ali's cramped home is a photograph of him in his hospital bed, his face obscured by plastic tubes. For four months he lay in a coma.

"I've tried to have hope but I'm slowly losing it. They did arrest these boys who attacked me but how come they did not get prosecuted? It would have been different if I had been white. I could have had justice the following day.

"We should help each other even if you are white, black or green," says Mr Ali. "Your skin does not matter."

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