On Monday 18th September, a Leicester Ganesh Utsav was interrupted by Sergeant Ahmed of the Leicestershire Police with the use of what we believe to be excessive force. INSIGHT UK conducted its own investigation into the incident and created a timeline of events that unfolded.
July 17 2023
Hindu Community Organisations Group UK (HCOG) had spoken to the Leicestershire Police and the Leicester City Council making them aware of the upcoming Hindu festivals. A meeting was set up between HCOG, the police and the council to advise that there will be numerous Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations happening throughout the city and county from 18 September 2023 to 28 September 2023. So the Police Force was aware of the Hindu festivals and rituals involved.
Monday 18th September 2023
Ganesh Utsav preparations were ongoing on Monday 18th September at the Shivalaya Temple on Belgrave Road, Leicester and everyone was getting ready to welcome Ganapati Bappa’s Murti.
At around 7.45 pm a gathering of around 12 devotees started the transportation, carrying of Ganesh murti (a physical representation of a Hindu deity) from Jeram Superstore car park to the Shivalaya temple on foot along Belgrave Road. The distance of transportation was around 480 metres, less than an 8-minute walk, with various devotees carrying the Ganesh murti along the way.
It was not a procession but rather transporting the Ganesh murti from point A, the car park to point B, the temple with devotees accompanying and playing the dhol. This is common practice. As the murti was being transported, passing devotees joined in the walk to the temple.
The Hindu devotees used the footpath to transport the murti to the temple and did not obstruct any roads or traffic or cause any inconvenience.
As the Ganesh murti was being transported Sgt Adam Ahmed (badge number 4381) of the Leicestershire Police stopped the religious service (mantrochar) by the Priest and then Sgt Ahmed disgracefully manhandled the elderly Hindu priest.
One of the devotees present tried to reason with Sgt Ahmed and requested the police to go inside the temple and clarify the matter. The devotee was instead arrested and handcuffed. He was then taken to the police station.
The temple area doesn’t come under the Police station of Sgt Ahmed and generally, he is not seen in this area.
Many community members gathered at the Police station. Leicestershire Police Chief Constable, Rob Nixon and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Rupert Mathews were called in and requested the community members to return home assuring them of the investigation into the matter. At 2.30 am the arrested devotee was Released Under Investigation.
Incident Involving Sgt Ahmed in the Past
Incidentally, Sgt Ahmed was also the same Policeman who caused controversy in July by the use of excessive force against an elderly Hindu devotee outside the Prajapati Hall in Leicester during a Hindu religious event.
The bottom line
There was no procession, but rather transportation of the Ganesh murti from a car park to the temple and most concerning the Policeman with a history of using excessive unreasonable force at previous Hindu events was seen again doing the same at this event.