Indian students should have own ombudsman: expat group

June 1st, 2009 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 1 (IANS) Indian students in Australia should have their own ombudsman to whom they can go in times of trouble and the universities that admit them should arrange their accommodation for the first six months, says a committee formed after a spate of attacks on Indian students here and in Melbourne.
Asserting that “Australia is not a racist country”, committee coordinator Yadu Singh held: “Most of the attacks are what we call `opportunistic attacks’ and due to the impression of the criminal elements about our students being the easy target for various reasons”.

He said the Community Committee on Indian Students’ Issues, which was formed in consultation with the Indian consulate here, was meant to identify what had to be done to safeguard the students and to see that those plans were carried out.

Pointing out that “Australia risks more than $15 billion business if the students’ issues are not given the top importance soon”, Singh said Indian students should also have health and emergency insurance.

He advised them to mix socially with local students.

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 train May 9. Sharma suffered a fractured cheek bone and a broken tooth in the attack, captured on closed circuit television cameras.

Singh said Indian students in Australia are not reporting many of the incidents for various reasons. “Police must increase its visibility and start under cover patrolling. Proactive measures need to be taken rather than the reactive ones.”

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