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#Hijacked: Scores arrested as clashes breakout at Sikh demonstration in Central London.

A peaceful protest in Central London against the killing of two Sikh men by police in India turned violence this afternoon resulting in an injury to a police officer and dozens of arrests.

Hundreds of Sikhs gathered outside the Indian High Commission in Holborn for the protest, a week after police in the Punjab shot and killed two young men who were protesting against the alleged desecration of the Sikh holy book – the Guru Granth Sahib.

Hundreds of protestors – most from the group Sikh Lives Matter – gathered at the Indian Mission on Thursday afternoon to express their solidarity with their brethren in India.

Protestors also denounced Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the UK and called for the establishment of Khalistan – a separate homeland for India’s Sikhs.

Clashes broke out an hour into the demonstration after one group of protestors decided to block the busy ring road in front of the High Commission, prompting riot mounted police to move in.

One police officer suffered an injury to the head in the scuffles that ensued and had to be taken to hospital.

According to reports 20 arrests were made. 

A number of protestors expressed disappointment with the way the protest had ended suggesting that a peaceful protest had been hijacked by some unruly elements.

One protester told the International Business Times: "This is not what I thought would happen. A select few suddenly decided to block the road and then everyone else followed them.

It's not right to disturb people who are trying to go about their daily lives.

“We wanted to come here today and protest peacefully to raise awareness about what is happening to the Sikh community back home in India."

According to the Sikh Press Association, the escalation came after one protestor had had his Kirpan – the ceremonial sword carried by Sikhs – confiscated by a police officer.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “Whilst it was initially a peaceful protest the demonstrators blocked the roadway at the Aldwych and caused significant disruption to the central London road network.  Police liaison officers attempted to negotiate with those present in order to facilitate peaceful protest and minimize the disruption to the public,” the force said.

A number of incidents involving the alleged desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib have been reported across the Punjab during October – the first was when pages torn from the holy book was discovered near a village in Faridkot in eastern Punjab.

Protestors soon took the streets leading to a confrontation with police when two men were killed.  Police insist that they had fired into the air.

There have been half a dozen other incidents of desecration since that first one.  Dozens of people have also been arrested over the desecrations.

The events have led to wild speculation about who is responsible.  Some media organizations in India have alleged that the desecrations have been orchestrated by Pakistani intelligence – a claim that was given added credence after Indian police revealed an alleged “foreign hand” in the funding of the perpetrators.

The protests have extended beyond Punjab’s borders.

During the BBC’s Sunday Morning Live program last weekend, a Sikh activist from Canada, Jagmeet Singh, interrupted host Sian Williams to protest against “the killing of Sikhs in India”.

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#Inspiration: ‘Modern Suffragette’ Malala inspires London Film Festival.

Malala was the name on everyone’s lips this week at the London Film Festival where a documentary about the youngest-ever Nobel Peace laureate had its European premiere.

“He named me Malala” is an intimate portrait of Malala Yousafzai and during the festival even the biggest stars seemed humbled by the teenager and her aspirations.

American actress Meryl Streep hailed her as the worthy heiress of the suffragettes who battled for the right to vote in Britain in the early 20th century.

Filmed over 18 months in Britain, Kenya, Nigeria, Abu Dhabi and Jordan, the documentary by American David Guggenheim recalls how Malala’s father chose her name in honour of Malalai of Maiwand, a heroine who rallied the Pashtun army against British troops in 1880.

“When I was little, many people would say, `Change Malala’s name. It’s a bad name, it means sad.’ But my father would always say,`No, it has another meaning. Bravery’,” Malala said.

On screen, the 18-year-old is seen at her home in Birmingham, central England, explaining to her father in the family living room how Twitter works, or squabbling with her brothers, Atal and Khushal.

“She’s fighting for human rights but at home she’s so violent,” complained Atal after being beaten in an arm wrestling match.

The film follows her at school, in the streets of New York, at a refugee camp, spreading her optimistic and determined message on the right to education.

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world,” she proclaimed.

The documentary also shows Malala’s life in Swat valley where she decided, aged 11, to write a blog for the BBC — “Diary of a Pakistani schoolgirl” — in which she denounces Taliban violence.

Guggenheim turns to animation to bring to life these years before the attempted assassination in October 2012, when Taliban gunmen opened fire on then 14-year-old Malala on her school bus.

The cartoons, matching photos from the family album, also evoke the childhood of Malala’s mother, Toor Pekai Yousafzai, who recalled her own brief education on Friday at London’s Women in the World summit.

“I left school because I was the only girl in a class full of boys. I just wanted to play with my cousins who were girls,” she said in Pashtun, adding that she is now trying to learn to read and write in English.

Of her daughter, she explained that, despite the anguish, she could not “stop a girl like her from talking or speaking up”.

“Sometimes when I worried she would tell me `I can’t stop going to school, I can’t stop talking, because I am a girl and we cannot go back to the ages when they buried girls alive. I want to progress. I want to speak’.”

The film also shows the months of hospitalisation and re-education of the girl who wants to become prime minister of Pakistan, as well as her close relationship to her father.

“We are one soul in two different bodies,” said Malala in the documentary.

To silence the critics who see her as her father’s mouthpiece, she added: “My father only gave me the name Malalai. He didn’t make me Malalai. I chose this life.”

Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, meanwhile told of his astonishment at the Taliban attack, saying, “they had never killed a child, I never expected that”.

On occasions in the film, Malala is just a normal teenager: she looks at photos of Brad Pitt, speaks of her favourite book, “the Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, and shares her passion for cricket.

But she recognises the difference between her and her British classmates who “all have boyfriends”. And she shares her dreams of one day returning to the Swat valley.

“He named me Malala” is released in Britain on Nov 6.

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#London: British-Pakistani bus driver’s son could be next mayor of world’s greatest city.

British Pakistani MP Sadiq Khan could become the first ethnic minority Mayor of London after he was today named the Labour Party’s candidate for the capital’s mayoral race.

Mr Khan, a lawyer by profession and the son of a bus driver who migrated to Britain in the 1960’s, beat out Tessa Jowell to secure his party’s nomination for Mayor.

His victory sets up an intriguing battle against Zac Goldsmith, scion of the famous Goldsmith banking dynasty, who is expected to be named the Conservative Party’s candidate.

The mayoral election will take place in May 2016.

Following his victory, 44-year-old Mr Khan, said: “I am deeply humbled to have received the support of tens of thousands of Londoners.  I am determined to repay that trust by winning the mayoral election next May, and making a real difference to Londoners’ lives.

“London gave me and my family huge opportunities.  A council house so we could save for a deposit to buy our own home.  A secure job for my dad as a bus driver.  A great education for me and my siblings, affordable university places and good quality apprenticeships.  As Mayor I will provide more opportunities for all Londoners.

“My priorities for Londoners are clear.  An affordable and secure home to rent or buy.  More jobs with higher wages for the lowest paid. Making it easier to set up and run a successful business. Reducing the cost of commuting and making London’s environment safer, healthier and less polluted.”

The final tally was 48,152 votes for Mr Khan and 33,573 for Dame Tessa.

London Mayor is one of the most important jobs in British politics.

The eventual winner will oversee a huge £17 billion budget and exercise control over transportation, policing, housing and tourism in one of the world’s great capitals.

Mr Khan, a human rights lawyer, has said one of his key jobs will be to set up an “economic fairness” unit to look at ways of creating a level playing field for workers in the capital, which is also one of the most expensive cities in the world.

He has pledged to freeze tube and train fares until 2020 and cut bus fares.  He has also said he would oppose expansion of Heathrow aiport.

If he wins, Mr Khan - the MP for Tooting, South London - will become the first Muslim Mayor of London as well. 

In 2005 he became the first Muslim to attend Cabinet when he was named transport minister by Gordon Brown.

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#LFF2015: Check out the amazing South Asian line-up at this year’s London Film Festival.

It’s set to be another extraordinary year for South Asian cinema and films inspired by the region and its people at the London Film Festival 2015.

Here are some of the highlights.   

Beeba Boys

Acclaimed director Deepa Mehta kicks down new doors with this energetic gangster movie that also explores South Asian family values.  Set in Vancouver’s Sikh immigrant badlands, it finds young kingpin Jeet Johar (Randeep Hooda) and his sharp-suited gang the Beeba Boys on the rise.  So far, they’ve left a trail of blood in their attempt to take over the local drugs market.  However, when Jeet isn’t managing his cadre of dapper toughs, he’s doing his best to be a respectful son to his mother, to follow his religion with as much diligence as his profession will allow, and to hold his crumbling family together. 

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