New Delhi: Anil Kanti “Neil” Basu, the top British counter-terror cop, who has risen to international limelight once again after the London Bridge incident in which he and his team nabbed and shot dead the British terror convict Usman Khan Friday, has ties to India.
The assistant commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, also known as Scotland Yard or the Yard, Basu’s roots can be traced back to Calcutta, now Kolkata, from where his father – Pankaj Kumar Basu – hailed. His father relocated to the UK in 1961 and was married to his mother, a nurse in Wales.
Basu’s father was a surgeon with the UK police for 40 years. Thus, taking up policing as his career came naturally to him although his father wanted him to be a banker or lawyer.
Basu’s first job was with Barclays Bank, which he took up immediately after graduating from Nottingham University with a major in Economics. But he eventually joined the Metropolitan Police at the age of 24 and was quickly promoted to being a sergeant in Brixton area.
His father, who passed away in 2015, was proud to see his son being promoted to the rank of deputy assistant commissioner. But he could not see him get the coveted Queen’s Police Medal (QPM), Basu stated in an interview.
A fierce police officer, Basu has an impressive portfolio to his credit. He has worked as a detective in a wide range of areas from anti-corruption to homicide. He is highly regarded by the MI5, the UK’s domestic security service, which favoured his appointment to the counterterrorism job.
Basu was the first officer of Asian origin to be appointed to the job in the Met, which has been always been accused of a lack of diversity in its ranks.
A victim of racism
Although born and brought up in the UK with a comfortable childhood in Stafford, Basu and his two brothers couldn’t help but become victims of racism during their growing up years, something that his parents had to also suffer in the UK back then.
“My parents were a mixed race couple so holding hands in the streets of north Wales they would be stoned by members of the community. Between them, doctor and nurse, they gave 90 years to the National Health Service, one of the UK’s greatest institution,” Basu had said in an interview.
In fact, in one of his addresses to Members of Parliament on the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this year, Basu had said he spent his life “dealing with racism”. He was basically responding to a controversial proposal from a cross-party group of MPs, which had defined Islamophobia as a “type of racism”.
“I’ve spent 51 years dealing with racism and the vast amount of racism I’ve had in my life has been the perception that I might be Muslim – and I’m not,” Basu told the committee. “So, I look at that and I feel kind of personally conflicted about saying I can’t accept this definition, but professionally, for me, it’s about community confidence.”
He added that he grew up in an area where there was “casual racism around”.
An expert in counterterrorism, Basu wants sociologists, criminologists to tackle the threat of terrorism in the UK
In a unique approach of sorts, Basu, earlier this month, called on sociologists and criminologists to help identify the root cause of terrorism in the UK.
Touted as being the next head of the Metropolitan Police, Basu said Britain’s counterterrorism strategy had been “badly handled”.
“Don’t forget that 70 to 80 per cent of the people we arrest, disrupt or commit an attack here, are born and raised here,” he had said in August this year. “That has got to tell us something about our society – that we have got to look at why they would be prepared to do that. “I want good academics, good sociologists, good criminologists … to be telling us exactly why that is.”
Basu believes that 9/11 attack in the US was the “contemporary game-changer” and that in the UK, the main onslaught of terrorism began between 2002 and 2005 and it gradually came to light that Britain is actually suffering from “domestic home-grown terrorism with some direction from abroad”.
He also stressed that while the dreaded terror outfit Islamic State (IS), may have been defeated militarily, it has become a virtual network.
“What we’re not seeing is a reduction in people’s willingness to align themselves with this ideology. So even though there is no caliphate to go and fight for, in the minds of some British extremists, the fight carries on because they can aspire to go to Libya or another province,” he said.
Social media going gaga over Basu
Meanwhile, Basu has become an overnight Twitter sensation with people comparing his Indian roots with that of terror convict Khan who is of Pakistani origin.
“London Bridge attack. Two kinds of countries, two kinds of immigrants. Pakistani Usman Khan is a terrorist. Neil Basu, whose father is from India, led the anti-terror operation,” tweeted Lawrence Sellin, a retired US Army Reserve colonel, an international IT businessman and a veteran of Afghanistan, Iraq and a mission to West Africa.
London Bridge attack.
Two kinds of countries, two kinds of immigrants.
Pakistani Usman Khan is a terrorist. Neil Basu, whose father is from India, led the anti-terror operation.
(Hat tip to @PixelArts16) pic.twitter.com/wwVNYPZDfP
— Lawrence Sellin (@LawrenceSellin) November 30, 2019
Katie Hopkins, British columnist and a former businesswoman tweeted, “@UKLabour and the London Mayor @SadiqKhan enabled the Pakistani mob to protest IN LONDON only a few weeks ago. They vandalised the Indian Embassy and left it covered in waste. We are being dismantled from within. #LittlePakistan.”
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