*Content warning: One reference to a racist encounter some people might find offensive*

A FORMER police officer and representative of Basingstoke Nepalese Society opened up about racism he faced when he first moved to the UK.

Shibaji Shrestha, who runs food company S4U Healthylife based in Basing View, was among the speakers at the anti-racism gathering in War Memorial Park on Saturday, June 13.

"My one experience was this. When I came to the UK in 2005, I dropped my young boy to school. I saw some school children and they called me 'paki'," he said.

"I smiled as I had just come to this country and I didn't know much about the culture. Suddenly I saw them laughing. I looked around. I couldn't see anyone there, I guessed that was for me.

"I shared this news with my wife later and she explained to me what it meant."

After that, Shibaji said he felt he had to shave his beard off.

The former police officer, who worked during the Nepalese civil war, highlighted an appalling incident which happened recently as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.Thugs burnt cars owned by two Nepalese people and left a message "Chinese go back". He said: "Gurkha soldiers have served this country for more than 200 years in the First World War, Second World War and so many other wars,

Shibaji said: "Racism is everywhere. Let's think about this. Let's educate our people. Let's educate our community. Let's try to make racism less of a problem."

  • To report a hate crime or to speak to someone about abuse you've faced, contact Stand Against Racism and inequality 0800 171 2272
  • Have you faced something similar? Speak to a reporter in confidence by emailing newsdesk@basingstokegazette.co.uk

* * * * * * * * * 

How can you help stop racism?

Many people want to stand against racism but aren’t sure how.

We’ve all been a bystander at one time or another. It can be uncomfortable. Often people don’t respond because they don’t want to be a target of abuse themselves.

Standing up to racism can be a powerful sign of support. It can also make the perpetrator think twice about their actions.

When responding, always assess the situation and never put yourself at risk. Your actions don’t need to involve confrontation.

If you see racist behaviour in public, you could….

  • Say something if it feels safe. It could be as simple as saying “That's not appropriate." or "You need to leave them alone."
  • If it doesn’t feel safe to say something, you could….
  • Think about how you can support the target of the abuse. Go and sit or stand next to them and check if they’re ok.
  • Tell someone responsible such as the driver if it’s happening on a bus or tram or a security guard if it’s happening at a club or venue.
  • Call the police on 999 if you think that you or somebody else may be in danger.