A car belonging to a retired Gurkha — a Nepalese soldier recruited into the British Army — was set on fire in what his family believes is a hate crime against Asians amid the coronavirus pandemic in the U.K.
The family from Kent, England scrambled out of their home after hearing an explosion around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, only to find their Ford Focus ablaze.
Milan Limbu, son of former serviceman Ram Kumar Limbu, speculated that the event was a hate crime against Asians, especially upon learning that another vehicle belonging to a Nepalese family caught fire shortly after.
“Man, somebody lit my dad’s car on fire. I’m guessing it’s a hate crime on us Asians as there have been numerous crimes around the world on ‘Chinese’ people because of the coronavirus,” Milan wrote in an Instagram Story. “And the thing is, we’re not even Chinese.”
Milan’s family lives along Elmstone Lane in the Kent town of Maidstone. The second family whose car had been torched resides in the nearby Fant Lane.
“I heard the explosion first,” Milan told NextShark, adding that his family has lived in the U.K. for 15 years. “I initially felt shock and fear, with immediate thoughts of the hate crimes that have been happening all over the world on Asians. So I quickly assumed this was one of them now happening to us.”
Milan said that his father was speechless as he witnessed his car go up in flames. It was the first vehicle he purchased when he came to the U.K. — and he was still using it even after buying a new car recently.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service reportedly arrived in Milan’s home past 11 p.m. After putting the fire out, they headed straight to the incident in Fant Lane.
“I felt sad and scared that this is happening to people I know as well,” Milan told NextShark. “[The subsequent incident] confirmed my suspicions of this being a hate crime, because the chances of both Asian families attacked in a neighborhood full of British people would be impossible to be coincidental.”
Milan’s cousin, Angela Limbu, was working part-time at a hospital when the incident happened. She described how her own family deals with the current rise in anti-Asian sentiment.
“You know because of social media, we’ve seen around the world, just random people, not even Chinese people but if you are just simply Asian, you see a lot in social media that people are just getting attacked,” Angela told Kent Online.
“Even if my dad goes to the local supermarket we’re always telling him ‘Make sure you cover yourself,’ because as Asians we get the stereotypical view that ‘Oh, they’re Chinese, they’ve brought coronavirus to the U.K.’ So we’re always being very cautious.”
Like many Asians at this time, Angela and her family have been told to go back to their own country.
“We can’t even go for our one-hour walk before someone calls us ‘Chinese, go back to your own country’ or ‘Stop eating bats,’ comments like that. And I think it’s just uneducated people really, isn’t it,” she told Kent Online.
The incidents have since reached Maidstone Borough Councillor Dinesh Khadka, who slammed them as “disappointing.”
“This is rather disappointing news for the entire Nepalese community, as well as the whole community in Maidstone. Especially in this difficult time of pandemic when we all need to work together and help each other, which is happening across the borough,” Khadka said. “Amidst the community vibes, such attacks make everyone, especially targeted communities, more worried and vulnerable.”
Video via Milan Limbu
Milan said that an investigator has been assigned to their case. He was also informed that police patrol the areas at night when staff are available for deployment.
“They told me that they are taking this case seriously and still looking for a few more details, apparently,” Milan told NextShark. “Hopefully they can catch the criminals.”
Feature Images via Milan Limbu