Peterborough councillor accused of derogatory comments apologises to Indian community

Councillor Iqbal at the rally
Councillor Iqbal at the rally
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A Peterborough councillor who appeared to make derogatory comments against Indians at a rally has apologised for causing offence, but no disciplinary action will be taken against him.

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’.

The rally, which took place earlier this year, was centred on 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 video of Cllr Iqbal angered members of the local India community who met with council leader Cllr John Holdich to express their grievances over what was being chanted.

Cllr Iqbal, of the Conservative Party, was also seen on the video joining in with a chant which saw Indian people referred to as terrorists.

He has previously denied that his chants were racist but his actions were heavily criticised by Jayshree Mehta, speaking for the city’s Indian communities, who said they felt insulted and totally disgusted by what they had seen.

Cllr Holdich, who previously stated that Cllr Iqbal’s behaviour was not the sort he expected from one of his councillors, said: “I have received a letter from Councillor Iqbal in which he put on record that it was not his intention to offend any of the local Indian community or anyone else and, if anyone had taken offence, he offered his unreserved apologies.

“He did finally however note that along with many thousands of Kashmiris living in Peterborough, he would continue to press home the case and campaign for a free Kashmir.”

Cllr Holdich said he had ordered an independent review into the matter and that it was unlikely the council would take any action against Cllr Iqbal as he was not acting in his role as a councillor.

He added that the local Conservative Party, which he belongs to, would also not be taking action for the same reason.

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