MP Keith Vaz declares war on thugs after vicious, unprovoked attack on Leicester estate
A city MP has declared war on thugs after a man was attacked and robbed by a gang just yards from his home.
Keith Vaz spoke out after 47-year-old Rajesh Devaliya was ambushed by four young men as he stepped into a lift in the housing block in St Mark's, Leicester, where he lives with his elderly father.
Mr Devaliya said he thought he was going to die as the men repeatedly punched and kicked him as he lay on the floor of the lift during the attack, in Southey Close, at 4pm on Monday.
Mr Vaz, who stepped into the still blood-spattered lift yesterday during a visit to Mr Devaliya's home, said: "Enough is enough. This is a line drawn in the sand. I am declaring war on thugs. We have to unite against them and protect our citizens."
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Mr Devaliya, who came to Britain 10 years ago from the Gujurat area of India and does not speak English, recalled the attack with the aid of an interpreter.
"As I went through the main door to the building two young men came in after me," he said. "When I got into the lift, there were two other young men already in it.
"Before I knew what was happening they all started attacking me.
"I was knocked to the floor but they kept on punching and kicking me.
"I thought I was going to die. They took my wallet with £40 in and ripped a gold chain from around my neck which my mother had given me."
Following the attack, Mr Devaliya, bleeding heavily from a gaping head wound, staggered to the door of his apartment.
His 87-year-old father called Mr Devaliya's brother, Ashok, who lives nearby. He raced round and dialled 999.
Ashok, 50, said: "It was like the scene from a horror movie. There was blood everywhere – outside the lift, in the lift along the corridor and into my father's apartment.
"My brother was covered in his own blood and was lucky to survive. If it had been our father, I am sure he would have been dead."
The victim's head wound needed five stitches.
Leicester East member Mr Vaz said the Home Affairs Select Committee, of which he is chairman, had this week begun an inquiry into anti-social behaviour in Britain.
He said: "This attack is not just an attack on Mr Devaliya, it is an attack on all law-abiding members of our society. We must fight back and ensure the perpetrators of this terrible crime – and crimes like this – are caught and brought to justice.
"I want everyone who thinks they may have information about this crime – and any other crime – to contact the police immediately."
As well as visiting the victim yesterday, Mr Vaz spoke to residents on the estate.
Many said there was a lot of anti-social behaviour in the area, and some said they were afraid to go out at night.
The MP, whose constituency includes St Mark's, told council housing officials, who were also there for the visit, that they had 28 days to move the entrance intercom from the secluded rear of Mr Devaliya's housing block to the front, which is more public.
Mr Vaz also asked the housing officials to see if other residents in other council complexes in the city were facing similar problems.
He said: "It must be a city-wide problem and I want all of these people protected and their concerns listened to."
John Thomson, area housing manager for the city council, said: "We will speak to all the residents of this block to see if they want the intercom system moved."
Detective Constable Kaushik Pattani, said: "This was an unprovoked and nasty assault that has left the victim very shaken and upset by the ordeal.
"We have been carrying inquiries and looking at CCTV, but we are hoping that the public may be able to assist our investigation."
The attackers are about 5ft 6in. One is of slim build and the others are of medium build. All four men were wearing hats, gloves and had their faces covered. They were also wearing cream jogging bottoms and tops.
Inspector Edward McBryde-Wilding said the victim was not able to describe the attackers further because their faces were covered.
He said police were aware of a 20-strong group of youths who were known to congregate in the area.
The officer said police were applying for a dispersal order to allow them to move the group on and keep them out of St Mark's.
Anyone with information about the attackers can call police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.