Another Indian student attacked, Australia plans tougher law (Roundup)

June 2nd, 2009 - 7:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Kevin Rudd Melbourne, June 2 (IANS) Another Indian student was attacked by a group of men here Tuesday even as the provincial government of Victoria pushed for a plan that would entail tougher sentences for hate crimes.
The string of assaults on Indian students in Australia has now gone up to six in 22 days.

In Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi Tuesday said his ministry will prepare and maintain a register of all Indians studying abroad and streamline campus placements to foreign universities.

“I have already discussed the issue of maintaining a register of all students from our country who study abroad. We are working this out and very soon we will be implementing this,” Vayalar Ravi told reporters.

“We have also come to know that certain agents who do campus placements for Indian students in foreign universities are not doing it in the proper way. We will streamline that area too,” he said.

On Tuesday, the latest Indian victim, identified only as Singh, 21, was attacked by a group of men in suburban Melbourne after they stopped him and demanded cigarettes and money.

Singh, a nursing student at Chisholm College, Dandenong, in Melbourne’s east, was slashed with a box-cutter knife carried by one of five men who confronted him in a car park, the The Age website quoted a spokeswoman for Victoria Police as saying.

She said the attack happened at 1.30 p.m. Tuesday as Singh was leaving the college.

“Five males confronted him as he crossed a car park and asked for cigarettes.”

The police said the victim told the men he was a non-smoker. The men then demanded money and when the student refused, he was slashed across the chest with the knife.

The victim went to Frankston police station where he made a statement about the attack.

Police spokeswoman Senior Constable Karla Dennis said there was no indication the attackers had deliberately targeted the student. “I would say this is an opportunistic fight. It could have happened to any individual of any nationality,” she said.

She said the student’s injury was minor and he did not need hospital treatment.

On May 30, another Indian student was assaulted here by a group of youths who teased and bullied him.

Ashish Sood, studying at the Carrik Institute here, was badly beaten up by a group of 15 youngsters Saturday. The incident took place at the city’s Chappel Street, South Asia Times has reported.

He, along with three others, was attacked by the group “who started teasing and bullying them for nothing and then pounced on them”.

Ashish was hit by a suspected metal object and the police were called.

He was admitted to Alfred Hospital with serious injuries and later discharged.

Earlier, there have been four attacks on Indian students in quick succession in Melbourne and Sydney, the two largest cities of Australia. The first took place May 9.

Three of the previous attacks on Indian students took place in Melbourne. Sravan Kumar Theerthala, 25, was hit with a screwdriver and is still battling for his life in hospital, Baljinder Singh was robbed and stabbed, and Sourabh Sharma, 21, suffered a fractured cheek bone and a broken tooth.

In Sydney, hospitality graduate Rajesh Kumar received 30 percent burns after a petrol bomb was hurled through the window of his Harris Park home.

The string of attacks on Indian students in this capital of the Victoria province has led the provincial government to push for a plan that would have tougher sentences for hate crimes.

The damage control action comes within months of Australia launching a multi-million dollar effort to woo Indian students.

In a plan being pushed by Attorney-General Rob Hulls, judges would have to take into account “hatred for or prejudice against a particular group of people” as an aggravating factor when sentencing offenders, The Age reported Tuesday.

Tougher sentences would apply to crimes deemed to be based on victims’ race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Indians form the second highest population of overseas students in Australia, after the Chinese. About 90,000 Indian students are currently studying in Australia.

According to officials, Indian students represent about 18 percent of foreign students and are worth 2 billion Australian dollars ($1.6 billion) to the economy every year.

On Monday, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd vowed to punish attackers of Indian students.

Rudd told parliament in Canberra that he had spoken to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said Australians strongly deplored the string of attacks on Indians studying in the country.

He said the state authorities had been told to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“I speak on behalf of all Australians when I say that we deplore and condemn these attacks,” Rudd said.

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