Some attacks on Indians are ‘racial’, police in Australia admit

June 9th, 2009 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, June 9 (IANS) The police chief of Australia’s Victoria state Tuesday admitted that some of the attacks on Indian students in this country are “racially motivated” - as maintained by the victims of a series of crimes.

The southeastern state’ Chief Commissioner of Police Simon Overland

told the media in Victoria’s capital Melbourne that some of the robbery attacks are “racially motivated” and others are “opportunistic”.

“Whatever the motivation, they (the attacks) are not okay. violence is not okay, being robbed is not okay,” he said.

He also said that there is no place for racism in the community, according to the transcript of Overland’s informal meet and greet with 50 members of Melbourne’s multilingual media.

In the past one month, there have been at least 11 attacks on Indian students, leading to an outrage in India. Representatives of about 90,000 Indians studying here took out a protest march here Sunday.

Asked if police used excessive force in breaking up a protest by Indian students in Melbourne last weekend, Overland said he watched from the Police Operations Centre and believed that what he saw was entirely appropriate.

He said there was some force used after the students were given the opportunity for the last time to leave the traffic intersection and they refused to do so. He said students were moved on because the intersection needed to be cleared for peak-hour traffic.

Asked why students were asked to “move on”, Overland said they had made their point.

Overland said police have been working on the issue of violence for 18 months with Indian students and universities, and are aware that this is a problem.

Police in Victoria are taking various initiatives to strengthen ties with culturally diverse communities, including Indians, he said.

“There is a shared responsibility between police and the media to provide important messages to the public and to have an open dialogue to understand where the other is coming from, and finding suitable solutions to problems,” Overland said.

Earlier, Overland wrote in the Herald Sun: “Some of these crimes are racially motivated; however I also believe that many of the robberies and other crimes of violence are simply opportunistic.”

He also urged the Indian community to continue to work with police to find an effective and sustainable solution to the series of crimes.

According to Victoria police officials, in 2007-08, there were 36,765 victims of crimes such as robberies and assaults in the state, of which 24,260 were Caucasian victims and 1,447 victims were people of Indian origin.

Police say 30 percent of assaults in Melbourne’s western suburbs are against Indians, and it is a disproportionate figure in a city of nearly four million people.

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