**London: ** An Indian-origin family was forced to flee their home in the UK after it was targeted in an arson attack which the police on Wednesday treated as a “hate crime”.
Mayour Karlekar, 43, said his wife and two kids suffered a “near death experience” when they woke up to a fire roaring outside the front door of their house in southeast London’s Borkwood Park area of Orpington during the weekend, News Shopper daily reported.
Karlekar said they were woken up by the neighbours who spotted the flames outside their home early on Sunday, the report said.
“I heard some noise under my bedroom window but ignored it. I thought… some folks must be having drinks and partying. But 20 minutes later I heard bells ringing and people were hammering my door to wake us up. I looked at the porch and saw our hedges on fire,” he told News Shopper.
He said the next few minutes were the scariest he had ever experienced as the hedge fire spread perilously close to his son’s window.
CCTV footage of the area later showed four youths, dressed in hoodies, setting fire on the hedges outside the Karlekars’ home.
“The Metropolitan Police is investigating this as a hate crime. It is being dealt with as a case of arson and criminal damage. No arrests have been made,” a spokesperson said.
Recalling the incident, Karlekar said: “Those three or four minutes of getting my family out, we were in complete shock. I didn’t even know what to do.”
Karlekar, who been a UK resident for 20 years, said he had never endured such an attack. “I go out of my way to help people. I have no idea why they would target us. It is impossible for me to believe in this nice area.”
Two cars and parts of the house were damaged by the fire. He said those responsible didn’t care about his family and described it as a “malicious and intent attack”.