Peace memorial in memory of stabbing victim Kashif Mahmood

Parveen and Arshad Mahmood, and Wilson Chowdhury Parveen and Arshad Mahmood hope the monument will deter knife crime

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A 10ft high monument has been built in east London in memory of a teenage victim of knife crime.

The granite tiled peace column has a mosaic strip made from coloured glass down one side with the words of Mahatma Gandhi at its base.

The memorial is a tribute to 16-year-old Kashif Mahmood who was stabbed to death in Ilford in 2005.

Kashif's family thinks it is the first such monument of its kind in Britain. They hope it will discourage youngsters from violence.

"This is something that will stand out. I want it to be a reminder to other youngsters," said Kashif's mother Parveen Mahmood.

'Horrible feeling'

"Even if one person was to think 'I don't want to be carrying a knife' or 'I don't want to get involved', I feel I am saving that one person. If it makes a difference that is something."

Artist Gary Drostle Artist Gary Drostle applies finishing touches before the public unveiling of the memorial

The column sits at the top of the entrance to a subway under a busy road in Ilford.

Kashif Mahmood was stabbed there during a fight. His attacker, 17-year-old Rehan Asghari, is serving a 12-year sentence for the crime.

Mrs Mahmood and her husband Arshad regularly visit the subway. This week the visit is more poignant - it is the sixth anniversary of their son's murder.

"It feels like the other day," said Mr Mahmood, while staring at the walls of the subway.

"You get goosebumps, something going down your spine when you're here.

Start Quote

Behind those statistics there is an immediate family (and) wider family that are all victims of that one crime”

End Quote Det Supt John Sweeney Metropolitan Police

"It's a horrible feeling. I wouldn't wish it upon anyone because even last night I just felt really down and depressed."

The couple also visit the subway to refresh floral tributes that they and relatives have attached to the railings at the top of the stairs to the underpass, something that they have done ever since Kashif was killed.

Occasionally the tributes are damaged by vandals. That is why Mrs Mahmood hoped for a more permanent memorial.

"I wanted something that someone won't just kick off or break. Something with Kash's name on it," she said.

Local businessman and campaigner Wilson Chowdhry helped the couple make it happen.

He hopes that the monument will inspire teenagers to follow a path away from violence.

Money donated

"One of the most important things about the monument for me are the words of Mahatma Gandhi at the foot of the column. It says 'You must be the change you wish to see in this world'," he said.

The peace monument cost £10,000 to build. The money was donated and raised by Kashif's family, Mr Chowdhry, Ann Oakes-Odger, whose son Westley Odger was killed in a knife attack in Colchester, and by Ilford police officers.

Mr Chowdhry wants the peace column to send out a warning to youngsters about the dangers of carrying a blade.

"We hope schools will bring children here to learn about the potential problems associated with knife crime," he said.

According to police figures, eight teenagers have been killed with a knife in London so far this year. A total of nine were killed in similar attacks in 2010.

But over the past five years the number of those killed has gone down, Det Supt John Sweeney of London's Metropolitan Police said.

"But even one death is too many," he said.

"I do feel sometimes that people just regard them as statistics when I know that behind those statistics there is an immediate family (and) wider family, that are all victims of that one crime."

Last week 32-year-old Harjinder Singh Bhurji was stabbed to death in Ilford for refusing to hand over the keys to his car. Four teenagers and a 20-year-old man have been arrested over the death.

You can hear more on Asian Network Reports on the BBC Asian Network at 12:30 BST and 18:00 BST Monday to Friday and after on BBC iPlayer.

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