Parents of students in Australia hold protest march in Punjab

June 2nd, 2009 - 10:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Patiala (Punjab), June 2 (IANS) Worried parents of students studying in Australia Tuesday held a march here to protest against a series of racist attacks on Indian students in that country and demanded a delegation be sent to get full information.
Leaders of all major political parties including the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Akali Dal and representatives of various social organisations also participated in the march and accompanied the parents as they submitted the memorandum to Divisional Commissioner (Patiala Range) J.S. Bir.

“Worried parents had come from all across the Punjab state. We understand their problem and we have passed their message to the higher authorities,” Bir told IANS.

“They have demanded that the central government should send a high-level delegation to Australia to get first-hand information on the attacks and to suggest ways of controlling the situation,” he said.

“Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also holds the home portfolio, are constantly keeping a tab on the situation,” Bir told IANS.

Patiala is around 60 km from the state capital Chandigarh.

Nearly 93,000 Indians students - 40 percent of them from Punjab - study at various universities and institutions in Australia. At least six students have faced serious attacks in the past 22 days.

Gurkirpal Singh from Jalandhar, who took part in this protest, told IANS: “Despite so much of media outcry and promises of the Australian government, the situation has not at all improved there.

“My son, who is studying accounting in Sydney, told me over the phone that he and his friends had to take shelter in a gurdwara yesterday to save themselves from bullies. Those rogues followed them inside the gurdwara and attacked them with sharp-edged weapons. Only timely intervention of local people saved our children.”

Gurpreet Kaur, another parent from Phagwara, said: “It is a matter of shame for the Australian government and we strongly condemn their irresponsible attitude towards international students. They are still grappling in the dark and have failed to curb the incidents of racial attacks on students.”

Meanwhile, activists of the Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) Tuesday staged a protest march in the campus in Chandigarh and appealed to the Indian and Australian governments to protect the rights of international students.

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