Battle over Diwali noise

2009-10-19 00:00

WHAT had promised to be a happy Diwali celebration turned into a nightmare for a Hindu family from Prestbury after they were targeted by people who took exception to the noise of their fireworks.

The family are still in shock, saying they will never forget the humiliation and the abuse they went through on Saturday night when an unknown man slashed their car tyres and a family member was punched.

One of the victims, Shashi Singh, said that everything was wonderful until they started letting off fireworks.

“We were standing outside when a white woman drove past and started to hoot. In my mind I thought that by hooting she was celebrating with us. She then pulled down her window and started to talk and I said ‘thank you’. Soon after that she drove back and started swearing, saying that Diwali is a day of lights and not a day to make noise and [let off] fireworks. I asked what does she know about Diwali and she left,” he said.

At around 9 pm, an anonymous caller phoned saying that they should be reasonable and not make any more noise and that they should sleep as Diwali was over.

“The person who phoned was also hurling insults. After the anonymous call, police from Prestbury paid us a visit and said that they received numerous calls from people who were complaining that we were disturbing their peace. We told him that we broke no law; we are just celebrating as Hindus,” said Singh.

He said they are the only Indian people living in Bridge Road. In previous years they went to celebrate Diwali with their relatives, but this year everyone came to their home.

He said that after the police left their house, a van came by with two men inside. “One of them called my father and when he went to speak to him through the car window, I saw him throwing a punch at my father.

Everyone from the yard came out and that is when the guy on a motorbike came out from nowhere and just slashed our tyres as we were all concentrating on the man that punched my father …”

Singh’s wife, Nerasha, said she saw the person who slashed the tyres. “He just jumped from his motorbike and pulled a knife. He was really fast because within seconds he managed to slash the tyres of our three vehicles. When my sister-in-law tried to take a picture of his motorbike he tried to run her over and left just like that,” she said.

The family said that when they phoned the police to report this incident, no one responded.

“Later the dog unit came and we heard that the police had arrested the people that were responsible for our ordeal,” said Singh.

One of the family members said they feel they were treated unfairly because “whenever the rugby or cricket team wins, white people also make noise and sometimes let off fireworks and we don’t complain because it is their happy moments. So why can’t they tolerate our happy moments? This just proves that apartheid is not over”.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said Shashi Singh opened a case of malicious damage to property, at Loop Street police station late yesterday. He said allegations that police did not respond when they were called would have to be investigated. He was unable to confirm if any arrests had taken place in connection with the incident.

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