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Bangladesh Awami student leader beaten up in London street attack

PUBLISHED: 11:28 02 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:28 02 July 2013

Attacked... political journalist and student leader Sarwar Kabir

Attacked... political journalist and student leader Sarwar Kabir

Sarwar Kabir

Police are investigating an attack on a political leader and journalist connected with the Bangladesh ruling party who was beaten up in a street attack in London’s East End after being targeted by extremists.

The attack came a week before an international conference opens in Whitechapel on the controversial War Crimes trials in Dhaka dealing with atrocities in the 1971 War of Independence.

Now the Met Police Borough Commander for Tower Hamlets has been asked to step up the hunt for the thugs.

Sarwar Kabir, 27, was set upon by three men who recognized him in Whitechapel Road and had followed him into Greatorex Street last Thursday evening.

It was only when a police van turned into Greatorex Street that the attack stopped and the men fled.

“I was lucky the police arrived when they did,” he said.

“The men asked me twice to confirm I was Sarwar Kabir, and said they saw me many times on Facebook, before kicking me and punched me in the face.”

Mr Kabir, vice present of the Bangladesh Chhatraleague, the student wing of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League, is now living in fear at his home in Mile End.

He was treated at the Royal London Hospital where the Bangladesh government Minister for Home Affairs, Shamsul Haque Tuku, who was on a visit to London, called in to see him.

Political and community leaders later called at the Stepney offices of Portrika, the Bangla language newspaper that Sarwar writes for, including London Assembly member John Biggs and Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman who both contacted Borough Commander Dave Stringer.

Mr Biggs said: “We need to make sure extremism spilling onto the streets of east London are nipped in the bud.”

Scotland Yard confirmed this week it was investigating the attack.

Potrika’s editor Belal Ahmed said: “Our journalists are vulnerable. We are worried and have given our concern to police and have also contacted the Borough Commander.”

Community leaders fear tensions between the ruling Awami League and the Opposition BNP with its links to the fundamentalist Jamaat e Islami group could spread to the East End over the controversial war crimes tribunal.

A conference is being held on Thursday at Whitechapel’s Montefiore Centre supporting the Awami League’s war crimes tribunal and aiming to thwart moves by Jamaat e Islami to get it halted.

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