Rudd speaks with Manmohan Singh, to take steps to ensure safety of Indian students

May 30th, 2009 - 1:38 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh Canberra (Australia)/New Delhi, May 30 (ANI): Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has reassured his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh that his government will take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian students in Australia.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries are said to be tense after India expressed anger and dismay over attacks on Indian students in Australia.

In a telephone conversation, Rudd congratulated Dr Singh on his recent re-election and also discussed the violent assaults, sources told The Age.

A statement released last night indicated Dr Singh spoke strongly to Rudd about the attacks.

The Indian Prime Minister had “suitably” conveyed his concerns about the vicious attacks, it said.

The Indian foreign ministry called in Australian High Commissioner John McCarthy yesterday to discuss the matter.

It was the first time McCarthy was called in by the Indian Government since the 2007 arrest of Muhammad Haneef, an Indian doctor working in Australia, on terrorism-related charges.

Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna spoke to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith about the issue.

Krishna said the Australian Government had assured him that steps were being taken to protect Indian students.

India’s High Cmmissioner to Australia Sujatha Singh said Victoria Police were insensitive towards some Indian crime victims.

Singh said many students felt insecure and some were unhappy with the police treatment.

Her comments came as Victoria Police again denied that the increasing attacks - which the Indian student community claims could be as many as 70 in 12 months - were racially motivated.

Singh said the Indian high commission in Canberra had received complaints from students about police. When an incident was reported, there was a perception that there was sometimes “a delay in reacting and … perhaps a lack of sensitivity dealing with the issues”.

Singh flew to Melbourne from Canberra to meet Premier John Brumby and police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland following the attack on Sravan Kumar Theerthala, 24, last weekend. He was allegedly racially abused and stabbed with a screwdriver at a party at a house in Hadfield, near Glenroy.

Last night he remained in a coma in intensive care at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. A 17-year-old from Glenroy has been charged with attempted murder. It was the third serious attack this month.

Trauma psychologist Dr Michael O’Neill, who works with Indian victims of crime in Melbourne, said he saw on average one bashed student a week and about half of those attacks were racial. (ANI)

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