Arrange housing for Indian students, expat group tells varsities (Lead)

June 1st, 2009 - 3:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Kevin Rudd Sydney, June 1 (IANS) Authorities in various Australian universities should arrange housing Indian students in safe areas, at least for the first six months, an expat group formed in the wake of a spate of attacks on Indian students here and in Melbourne said Monday.
Yadu Singh, coordinator of the newly formed Community Committee on Indian Students’ Issues, also asked the students to have health and emergency insurance. His statement came on the day Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised in parliament for the attacks, most of which have taken place in suburban areas or on commuter trains.

Indian students in Australia should have their own ombudsman to whom they can go in times of trouble, added the coordinator of the committee that has been formed in consultation with the Indian consulate here.

There have been four attacks on Indian students in quick succession in the two largest cities of Australia. The first was reported May 9 and the most recent one a week ago.

Hospitality graduate Rajesh Kumar received 30 percent burns a week ago after a petrol bomb was hurled through the window of his Harris Park home in Sydney.

Three attacks on Indian students took place in Melbourne.

Sravan Kumar Theerthala, 25, was assaulted a week ago with three other students. The attackers allegedly hurled racist abuses at the Indians and hit Theerthala with a screwdriver.

Another Indian student, Baljinder Singh, was robbed and stabbed a week ago. The victim had left a railway station when two men approached him and demanded money. As he searched his bag, he was stabbed in the abdomen.

Sourabh Sharma, 21, was beaten by a group of young men as he travelled on a Melbourne suburban train May 9. Sharma suffered a fractured cheek bone and a broken tooth in the attack, captured on closed circuit television cameras.

Indian students in Melbourne took out a protest march Sunday from Royal Melbourne Hospital, where Theerthala is under treatment. The demonstrators later accused the police of dispersing them by force. The police accused the demonstrators of unruly behaviour and held 18 of them for a day.

There are an estimated 90,000 Indian students in Australia.

Singh said Indian students in Australia are not reporting many of the incidents. “Police must increase its visibility and start undercover patrolling. Proactive measures need to be taken rather than the reactive ones,” he added.

At the same time, he held that “Australia is not a racist country”. “Most of the attacks are what we call `opportunistic attacks’ and due to the impression of the criminal elements about our students being easy targets for various reasons”.

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