Australian envoy welcomes arrests over Indian’s murderJanuary 29th, 2010 - 1:16 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese Friday welcomed the arrests of three Indians in connection with the murder of fruit-picker Ranjodh Singh in Australia’s New South Wales and said the investigation showed the attack was not racist.
Three Indians — including Gurpreet Singh, 23 and his wife Harpreet Bhullar, 20, — were arrested Thursday for Ranjodh Singh’s brutal killing. His charred body was found in December last year.
“The arrests underlined the importance of allowing investigations to run their course and not to jump to conclusions based on initial reports. The identity of those arrested (all three are Indian nationals), as well as the conclusions reached by the investigation, clearly showed that racism had not been a factor,” said Varghese in a statement.
Police allege Ranjodh Singh was still alive when he was set alight and left to die in the New South Wales farming town of Griffith.
On the night of his death, he attended a party with fellow Indian fruit-pickers.
Varghese said the case had been widely reported in the Indian media as a racist attack and he hoped that the record would be set straight.
He reiterated Australia’s commitment to bringing to swift justice the perpetrators of attacks against Indian nationals in Australia and stressed that police forces and courts would continue to come down hard on all instances of violence.
The envoy said more than 50 people have been arrested so far in cases involving Indian nationals.
The arrests in the Ranjodh Singh murder case come after Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna met his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith in London to urge more action over a series of attacks on Indians living in Australia.
Preneet Kaur, Krishna’s deputy, said the attacks were “particularly worrisome as the Indian community individuals appear to be singled out, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to accept these attacks as mere opportunistic crime devoid of any racial motives”.
There have been demonstrations in Australia, home to the bulk of over 100,000 Indians studying in Australia, after Nitin Garg, a 21-year-old accounting graduate, was fatally stabbed while walking to his job at a fast-food restaurant on Jan 2.
Police investigating the killing said they had no reason to classify it as a hate crime, arguing that street crime disproportionately affects Indian students.
According to the Australian High Commission, police investigations into Nitin Garg’s death were continuing.
“Police held a re-enactment of his final walk on 23 Jan in an effort to prompt information from the public. The Victorian Police are treating the case as a matter of highest priority and have asked any witnesses to come forward,” the statement said.
There has been a wave of attacks on Indian students since May last year.
Students and taxi drivers of Indian origin have found themselves being targeted in both Melbourne and Sydney, sparking allegations of widespread racism in Australian society and a failure by the law enforcement authorities to act.
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Tags: australian high commissioner, bhullar, commissioner peter, community individuals, external affairs minister, farming town, fruit picker, fruit pickers, gurpreet singh, indian nationals, initial reports, kaur, living in australia, murder case, new south wales, police forces, racist attack, stephen smith, swift justice, varghese