Councillor investigated over derogatory comments in video

Councillor Iqbal at the rally
Councillor Iqbal at the rally
Have your say

A Conservative councillor is to be investigated after appearing to make derogatory comments during a rally.

Councillor Azher Iqbal, member for East Ward on Peterborough City Council, can be seen on video, leading a chant which calls for ‘Indian dogs to go back’.

In the video cllr Iqbal is holding a microphone and is part of a large group of people leading the chant.

The video has been posted on a Facebook page and has been viewed by many people in Peterborough. He is also seen joining in with a chant which referred to some Indian people as terrorists.

The rally, which took place earlier this year, is believed to have been about the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir which India and Pakistan have fought wars over. Both countries control part of Kashmir but claim it in its entirety.

The Peterborough Conservative Association is now investigating the contents of the video.

Having seen the video, the Conservative council leader, Cllr John Holdich, said he did not expect councillors to behave in the manner shown in the video.

He said: “Whilst I understand that it is everybody’s right to protest, and this is a very passionate subject, it’s not the sort of behaviour I expect from one of my councillors and I shall refer the matter to the party as a matter of urgency for investigation.

“Further to that I cannot comment until I’ve been able to speak to Azher as I’ve asked him to come to see me as soon as possible.”

Cllr Holdich said he had arranged for a meeting to be held with the councillor to discuss the issue.

He said: “We need to discuss what has happened in a formal setting, and that will take place next week.

“I know the rally was not to do with Peterborough politics, but it is something that needs investigation.

“I have not had to deal with a situation like this before.”

He said he could not comment on what action - if any - might be taken against cllr Iqbal following next week’s meeting.

Cllr Iqbal defended his actions.

He said: “I don’t believe what is being chanted is racist this was a political protest meeting and race was not even a part of the protest or the aim of the day. I attended a political rally with many Kashmiries along with many Indian citizens also present to protest about the illegal occupation of Kashmir by Indian troops. This is something I regularly do and something that I have done for some time - I was not there representing any one group nor was I there in my capacity as city councillor nor did I represent myself as such.

“As most people will know this situation in Kashmir has been going on since 1947 and it is something that I and many others from Kashmir feel passionate about and we want this wrong to be put right so we will keep shouting about it until change happens. The United Nations have also clearly stated this is their position also.

“I am saddened if some people wish to turn this international issue into a personal political matter or an attack on me. So let me clearly state and for the record I am not a racist and never have been but I do believe we all have right to protest peacefully and any reference to “Indians” made in that protest was and is clearly aimed at the Indian troops who are there illegally and occupying Kashmir and yes we do want them to go home.

“It is worth noting that it is well documented by international aid agencies that Indian troops are responsible for many atrocities and the killing of many Kashmiri citizens in the area and that they behave no better than dogs fighting in the street. My friends and I view these people alone (Indian soldiers) the same as most UK citizen view those Chinese soldiers and their record of appalling human rights. I have and will continue to respect those peace loving Indians and others regardless of their race or religious background. My own faith expects me to do this.

“In closing I and those with me on the day in London whilst vocally passionate would not accept this as being racist behaviour in any way despite how some might want to twist it now.”