CHILDREN as young as eight have launched a hate campaign against an Asian chip shop owner – yards from the Scottish Justice Secretary’s constituency office.
The owner of Daba in Piershill said he has endured racist abuse, vandalism and threats of violence ever since opening the takeaway in August.
Now Kenny MacAskill – who met 25-year-old Neel Sharma at the weekend – has vowed to help him rid the area of youth antisocial behaviour.
The most recent incident took place on Thursday night, when a gang of local youngsters stole his wheelie bin and set fire to it nearby.
The businessman said he had also had his car attacked, been threatened by the thugs when he banned them from his shop, and that customers were being driven away.
“These kids go around in big groups, aged between eight and 14, and they just run riot,” he said. “I’ve lived in Muirhouse, what’s supposed to be one of Edinburgh’s worst areas, for five years and never had any trouble. Yet we’ve been here for three months and have to phone the police all the time.
“It has to stop now before one of my windows gets broken or I even get attacked.”
Police confirmed they were investigating the theft and burning of the bin from his shop in Piershill Place.
He said: “They’re out of control. They break the bus shelters, hit the buses as they go past. I’ve had them kicking my door in because I didn’t sell them cigarettes after 11pm.
“It’s driving my regular customers, who are good, sensible people, away.”
And he added that while the racist abuse hurts, it is the damage to his business that concerns him most.
“Yes, of course the racism makes me angry for two, maybe three hours, but then I get over it,” he said.
“But the damage to my business, my hard-earned money, that makes me angry for days, weeks and even months.”
Mr MacAskill, whose constituency office is round the corner in Willowbrae Road, said: “I’m concerned to hear about this and will be raising it with police and other authorities because it’s unacceptable for anyone to experience this at their work.
“It’s also bad for the local area.”
Local community organisations confirmed there had been problems with youngsters gathering at the playpark at Piershill, but not all of them were local.
Giacomo Modica, chairman of Craigentinny/Meadowbank Community Council, said: “They seem to get together there and occasionally have their battles.
“Certainly the issue of wheelie bins being set on fire has been a problem for a while.
“We have asked the council to install CCTV.
“But it’s important to note that this is still a minority of youths causing these problems.”
A police spokesman said investigations were continuing and urged anyone who has information to come forward.