Judge praises police and community for maintaining peace

Monday 09th February 2015 11:55 EST

A judge has praised police and community leaders as he jailed six men for a total of 19 years over a “paranoid” hate campaign. He commended the calming influence of leaders of the Muslim and Sikh communities during a time of tension. The judge also praised the police for their hard work and sensitive handling of the case.

Judge Nicholas Dean spoke out after the defendants pleaded guilty to a series of offences including inciting racial hatred, attacking two men in a car and shooting another victim.

Parwinder Baning (21), pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit assault, actual bodily harm, possessing an imitation firearm, possessing a bladed article and importing an illegal haul of weapons. He was jailed for seven and a half years.

Mehul Lodhia (24), pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit assault and importing illegal knuckle-dusters. He was jailed for three years.

Damanpreet Singh (19), pleaded guilty to affray, inciting racial hatred and conspiracy to commit assault and actual bodily harm. He was jailed for four years.

Harjinder Athwal (24), pleaded guilty to inciting racial hatred, conspiracy to commit assault and actual bodily harm. He was jailed for two and a half years.

Amanpreet Singh (25), also of Collingham Road, pleaded guilty to affray. He was jailed for two years.

Satinderbir Singh (20), pleaded guilty to inciting racial hatred. He was jailed for 15 months.

The Leicester Crown Court heard how a car containing two Muslim men was attacked by a group wielding hockey sticks, chains and other weapons in June 2013. The two men escaped injury in the incident, in East Park Road, Evington. A few weeks later, a Facebook thread was set up by one of the defendants peddling vehemently anti-Muslim comments.

Judge Nicholas Dean said: “These offences took place against a backdrop of tension in 2013 following the revenge attack by Sikh men on a Muslim restaurant after the grooming of a Sikh girl by a group of Muslim men.”

After the case, Suleman Nagdi, public relations officer for the Federation of Muslim Organisations, said: “It is absolutely imperative that faith leaders from all sides create a calm and cohesive society.

“The incident was a rare one - it was one that does not normally happen in Leicester and we hope it will never happen gain.

“It’s important that leaders of both sides are calm and understanding and show friendship towards each other. It is the way forward for the whole nation.”

Resham Singh Sandhu, Chairman of the Sikh Welfare and Cultural Society and vice-president of Leicestershire Faith Forum, said that shortly after the incident the faith leaders from both communities met with the police to help calm the situation.

He added that faith leaders work very hard to maintain goof relationships between different religious groups in Leicester.

“Relationships have been very very good for years, but sometimes elements disturb this cohesion.

“These issues are not always locally based, they are from the outside world, we try to control it as much as possible.”

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