Edinburgh driver ‘thought life was over’ during racist attack

Sikondor Ullah was driving from Crew Road North to pick up passenger in West Pilton when he was attacked. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.
Sikondor Ullah was driving from Crew Road North to pick up passenger in West Pilton when he was attacked. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.
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A GANG of youths dragged a private hire driver from his car before smashing his windscreen and stealing his takings.

The ten-strong group pounced on terrified Sikondor Ullah as he tried to pick up a fare in West Pilton on Saturday evening.

It was the second time the dad-of-one had been targeted by the screaming mob in the same night in attacks police are treating as a hate crime.

“I thought my life was over and I was finished,” said Sikondor, of the moment he was surrounded. “I was calling for God and didn’t know what to do.”

His ordeal began shortly before 7pm when the group of 14-20 year-olds stopped his car at the junction with Crewe Road Gardens and West Pilton Place.

They opened the doors of his Vauxhall Insignia before running off with a tub of Celebrations chocolates from the boot he had been given by a customer for colleagues.

“During the first attack, they were laughing and screaming and I thought they were just messing about,” said Sikondor.

But a few minutes later, the group struck again as he waited for a fare in West Pilton Place. He was dragged from his car by two girls and a boy while another lad jumped onto the bonnet and stamped on the windscreen.

The yobs then fled with £150 from a bag in the driver’s door, as well as his car and house keys.

“I was so frightened,” said Sikondor. “They knew by this time I was Asian and they came back and were making racist abuse, calling me names.

“I couldn’t sleep at all that night, neither did my wife or daughter. We live in the area as well. I don’t know whether I can carry on as a driver, going out at night now.”

Chair of Edinburgh & Lothian Regional Equality Council, Foysol Choudhury, said: “I’m concerned about this racist attack on a Bangladeshi taxi driver in West Pilton.

“Sikondor has been left traumatised as a result of this incident.”

Recent weeks have seen a number of high-profile vandalism attacks and thefts in the north of the Capital.

Last week, the Evening News reported how an ornamental bird was stolen from a memorial garden in West Pilton.

And last month, more than 30 cars had windscreens smashed in two nights of mayhem during the school holidays.

Community group Tenants and Residents in Muirhouse (TRIM) and Friends of West Pilton are now demanding government intervention.

“We’re appalled to hear of the assault and robbery of a taxi driver,” said secretary Barbara Beaufoy.

“We believe that everyone, going about their normal daily lives, has the right to do so in safety and not fall victim to antisocial or criminal behaviour.

“We’ve been relentlessly campaigning, for years, for help to stop all the incidents of speeding and reckless driving, theft, malicious damage, assault and all antisocial behaviour.

“Unfortunately, our community pleas fall on deaf ears – those with the authority to stop it do not invoke that authority and our community pays the price for that.

“With this in mind we will now seek to meet with Michael Matheson Cabinet secretary for Justice.”

Others stressed success has been achieved in reducing certain crime across north Edinburgh, including housebreaking and joyriding.

Tory member for Forth Allan Jackson said progress has been made - and blamed lingering issues on a minority.

“Problems come and go in the area - we had quite a few housebreakings for a time across the north and that seems to have quietened down now,” said Cllr Jackson.

“Last year we had problems with youths stealing motorbikes and charging up and down without helmets, on causing mayhem - one was killed which was horrendous.”

Of the attack on Sikondor, he added: “It’s really disappointing that this has happened and luckily he wasn’t hurt physically but this is terribly upsetting and he’ll be badly shaken.

“The people who live in north Edinburgh are nice, everyday people - it’s just one or two bad apples spoiling the barrel.”

SNP MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Ben Macpherson, called for the community’s help in catching Sikondor’s attackers - and for more police on north Edinburgh’s streets.

“News of this racially motivated assault and robbery is deeply distressing and disturbing, and my thoughts are with the victim and his family and friends at this difficult time,” he said.

“It is imperative that Police Scotland are provided with as much information as possible to ensure that the group of attackers are brought to justice as quickly as possible.

“West Pilton is a strong community and the majority of residents and those of us who represent them will not put up with such disgraceful criminal behaviour by a small minority of youths.

“That is why I am continually pressing Police Scotland for extra resources to be allocated to the North of the city and for more action to be taken by the various agencies involved to deal with and prevent such shameful criminal and antisocial behaviour.”

Detectives are now appealing for witnesses to Sikondor’s attack.

“We are treating this assault and robbery as racially motivated and are determined to track down these suspects as quickly as possible,” said DC Euan Hair.

“This man was simply going about his legitimate business and he has a right to do so without being assaulted.

“There is no place for racism in our communities and we will use all resources available to deal with those responsible swiftly.”

Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.