A violent attack on a Sikh schoolboy in Shropshire, which was filmed and posted on Twitter, has gone viral and elicited widespread condemnation and concern.
West Mercia police said: “This is clearly an incredibly distressing incident. We are treating this as a hate crime and with the utmost seriousness.”
The video shows a Sikh boy in school uniform being attacked by other boys. The incident happened on Friday, 13 November, as pupils walked home from Charlton School in Telford.
Superintendent Jim Baker said the boys involved had been identified and that inquiries were continuing. Officers were working with communities to provide reassurance, he said.
Charlton School said the incident involved a number of its pupils. “We have taken swift, immediate and appropriate action, including sanctions and targeted intervention for the perpetrators. Charlton School works hard to provide a safe, nurturing environment where proactive measures are taken to ensure students are protected from any types of bullying.”
The National Sikh Police Association has called the attack “absolutely disgusting” and advised the Sikh community to avoid contacting the school while trusting the police to deal with the matter
The Sikh Council said Sikh children were often targeted by bullies for the way they looked. For Sikhs, their kesh (unshorn hair) is sacred.
Preet Kaur Gill, the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, said: “The attack on a young Sikh student outside his school in Wellington was repugnant. We must send a message that bullies don’t win.”
She renewed her call for more explicit rules on reporting crime. At present the only category offered is ethnic origin, which does not capture whether a crime is against a person because of their faith.
Last month, she wrote to the government on behalf of the all-party parliamentary group for British Sikhs calling for action to address increasing hatred towards the Sikh community, which has risen by 70 per cent in two years.
The group has recommended that the government financially supports the work of the Sikh Network and Sikh Council to track hate crimes against their community with start-up grants and annual funding for the next three to five years.