Our students feel attacks racially motivated: Indian envoy to Australia (Lead)

May 29th, 2009 - 3:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, May 29 (IANS) “Our students feel that the attacks on some of them have been motivated racially,” High Commissioner of India Sujatha Singh has said, though premier of Australia’s Victoria state John Brumby Friday said violence against the Indian community is “completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated”.
Sujatha Singh told reporters: “I do not think that Australia is a racist society. However there are certain elements who have attacked these students and some of these attacks have not been opportunistic.”

“They have been motivated by other considerations which is unfortunate because it does not reflect the true face of Australia.

“Our students feel that the attacks on some of them have been motivated racially.”

She said that she has received several e-mails in the past few days asking whether Australia is a safe place to study. “That shows you that many prospective students coming to Australia do have this question on their mind.”

Brumby met Sujatha Singh and Consul General of India Anita Nayar to discuss safety and security of the Indian community in Victoria, the province of which Melbourne is the capital.

“Our discussions were about safety and security within Victoria’s Indian community, including what measures our government and police have in place to ensure safety and what further measures may be required to make sure that Victoria continues to be the first-choice destination for Indian students,” Brumby said.

“It’s important to note that on the whole Victoria is a wonderful place for Indian students and we want every Indian student who comes to Victoria to have that experience.”

A statement issued by Victoria’s premier said the vast majority of Victorians welcome Indian students “but we do recognise that there are some times and places where Indian students are more vulnerable and that’s a concern we’ve been working to resolve”.

“We agree that while the overall rate of crime in Victoria is low compared to other jurisdictions, any incidence of crime or violence against a member of Victoria’s Indian community is one too many, completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated,” he stressed.

He went on to say that any attack on an individual because of race, culture, gender or appearance is disgraceful and unacceptable.

“Victoria Police is working hard with our Indian community to tackle incidents of crime and violence,” he said.

“Last year over 47,000 Indian students came to Victoria to study and it’s paramount that their educational experience and life experience in our state is positive, productive, safe and enjoyable and we are committed to working not only with the Indian community but with the whole community to achieve this goal,” Brumby said.

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 the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

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

The attackers allegedly hurled racist abuses at the 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’.” Baljinder was released from hospital Friday.

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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