Pakistani youth arrested for assaulting Sikh woman in Luton

Sikhs protest outside police station, block roads

LONDON: A British Pakistani arrested in connection with an assault on a Sikh woman in Britain’s city of Luton on Monday was given conditional bail by magistrates on Wednesday.

Anan Majid Basharat, 19, appeared at Luton Magistrates Court after being charged with assault. He pleaded not guilty to the offence and was granted bail on the condition that he stays away from Luton, adheres to a curfew between 7pm and 7am and is not to contact anyone connected with the case. Security officials were called to the courtroom during the hearing after an outburst from a packed public gallery. Basharat will reappear before magistrates on August 6.

Earlier, hundreds of members of the Sikh community protested outside Luton Police station following allegations that a young woman had been sexually assaulted. Scores of Sikh men and women converged on the roads. Protesters, many of them from outside of Luton, blocked the roads with concerns over police handling of the incident. Several supporters of the far-right English Defence League joined the Sikhs in protest. Representatives from the Sikh community were invited into the police station to discuss their concerns, but police, some with dogs, eventually guarded the entrance to the station and herded protesters away. The group were escorted back to the Sikh temple and eventually dispersed before midnight.

Police had met members of the community at the gurdwara earlier in the day to address their concerns. Officers say that they are continuing to work with members of the community to ensure that they are kept up-to-date. Bedfordshire Police Chief Superintendent Mike Colbourne said, “Obviously we have a duty to facilitate lawful, peaceful protest and if people have concerns it is right they are aired responsibly. Our priority first and foremost, however, is with the victim in this matter and her family.”

Pakistan High Commissioner to UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan expressed utter dismay over the Luton incident allegedly involving a Muslim man and a Sikh lady.

Describing the alleged incident as despicable, Hasan urged for calm and utmost restraint among the members of the two communities. Hasan especially called upon the Pakistani and Muslim communities to show utmost restraint following reports of tension.

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