Attacks on Indian students not racial: Australian official

May 29th, 2009 - 11:30 am ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, May 29 (IANS) The attacks on Indian students in this Australian city were not racially motivated, an official said Friday, adding “we think they are vulnerable, we don’t think it’s racial”.
Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said there was no indication that a rise in assaults and robberies against Indian students in Melbourne’s west was due to “race hate”.

He said there was a perception that Indian people were weak prey for criminals.

“I don’t think they are (racist crimes) in general … more opportunistic activity.

“We think they are vulnerable, we don’t think it’s racial, we think they are a weak target,” Walshe told The Herald Sun.

Walshe said the Footscray Embona Taskforce was working with representatives of Melbourne’s Indian community to catch those responsible for the attacks.

Three attacks on Indian students have taken place in quick succession, with the first incident being reported May 9 while the most recent took place Monday.

Sravan Kumar Theerthala, a 25-year-old Indian student who was assaulted Sunday in Melbourne along with three other students, is battling for his life in intensive care unit in a hospital.

Theerthala, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, went to Melbourne to study two years ago.

The attackers allegedly hurled racist abuses at Indian students and hit them with a screwdriver.

Another Indian student Baljinder Singh was robbed and stabbed in Melbourne Monday.

Singh had left a railway station when two men carrying weapons approached him and demanded money. As he searched through his bag to hand over his wallet he was stabbed in the abdomen, Herald Sun reported.

He said: “They just laughed when they stabbed me in the stomach. They laughed at me…I was screaming ‘don’t kill me, don’t kill me’.”

Australian police Thursday arrested two teenagers over the beating of yet another Indian student on a Melbourne train.

Sourabh Sharma, 21, was beaten by a group of young men as he travelled on a train May 9, Herald Sun reported.

Sharma suffered a fractured cheek bone and a broken tooth in the attack, which was captured on closed circuit television cameras.

He said he was also racially abused and robbed during the attack.

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