An independent candidate running to be the next mayor of London met with some members and patrons of the Hindu community to discuss the increase in religion-related hate crime. On Tuesday 28th January, Rory Stewart, met with representatives from leading Hindu organisations including ISKCON and SHYAM, City Hindus Network (CHN), National Hindu Students Forum (NHSF), Hindu Matters in Britain and Operation Dharmic Vote. The discussion primarily focused on the operation of ethnic language schools, religious prejudice and safety concerns especially with the increase in burglaries around gold jewellery both at temples and homes. Some leaders also expressed their concern about the rise of Hinduphobia and its implications in community cohesion and integration.
In a bid to secure the “Hindu vote” from the community in the upcoming elections the former Tory rebel has now pledged his support in fighting crime in London through Operation Local. Part of this plan includes increasing the number of uniformed police officers at a ward level and to place great emphasis on intelligence sharing and support for a more integrated approach to community policing. He has also promised to triple the number of Special Constables, to ensure that these new officers come from the communities they police.
In a move to appease the Hindu community Stewart also discussed the importance of preserving regional traditions and languages. He offered his support to establish and preserve ethnic language centres to teach languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali among others. He believes that the knowledge of these languages will enhance the ability of Londoners to connect with people from different regions in the world.
Towards, the end he also expressed his concern about the lack of adequate cremation grounds for the Hindu community and has now committed to improving the situation if he was elected mayor. London’s mayoral elections are scheduled to take place during May 2020.