VIDEO: Violent Whitechapel brawl between Bangladeshi groups was 'peaceful', police claim
PUBLISHED: 13:04 27 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:19 27 February 2014
EXCLUSIVE: A Bangladeshi memorial ceremony that saw violent clashes between rival groups was a "successful event" that "passed off peacefully", according to the police.
Video footage published by the Advertiser last week shows police officers running into crowds at the Whitechapel event to break up chaotic fighting and disarm a group wielding a metal barricade.
However, the Met police today played down the clashes, saying the disagreement between the groups was purely verbal.
A police spokesman said the annual Martyrs’ Day ceremony on February 20 in Altab Ali Park “passed off peacefully with the invited guests and VIPs passing through, before police dealt with a brief verbal disagreement between two parties who were in the queue to pay their respects.”
He said: “The parties were spoken to separately and one group of 8 to 10 people was briefly removed from the park to compose themselves before being invited to return to pay their respects. They declined and left voluntarily.”
He said there were no arrests and no injuries reported.
The spokesman added: “At the event debrief, Tower Hamlets police, London Borough of Tower Hamlets and partners including Kendrio Shaheed Minar Committee considered this to have been a successful event with more than 1000 visitors.”
When contacted by the Advertiser last week the police said it had no record of the incident having taken place.
The police account differs from the testimony of an eye-witness, Ajanta Deb Roy, a radio presenter for Radio Betar Bangla, who said: “First it was verbal, and then they started attacking, and when they did the others fought back.
“They took those barricades and they wanted to beat us. They were very aggressive.”
Ms Roy said a six-year-old boy was crying when the fighting started, as women and children were in the park to lay flowers.
It is believed the violence began after a war of words over controversial war crimes trials in Bangladesh.