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Attacks on students in Australia must stop: India

By Natasha Chaku in Melbourne
May 29, 2009 12:12 IST
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India on Friday said the spate of violent attacks targeting its students in Australia should stop immediately and asserted that authorities here should come up with a solution to prevent such incidents from recurring.

Indian High Commissioner Sujata Singh, who met premier of Victoria John Brumby and top police and educational officials of the province, said there is a 'racist element in some of the attacks' but many of them were 'opportunistic'.

"The fact of the matter is that whatever the motive behind the attacks, they seem to be Indian students," she told a crowded press conference in Melbourne.

Observing that the Indian students are seen as 'soft targets', Singh said it has been made clear to the Australian government and police that they will have to come up with a solution to prevent such attacks.

"It is my earnest hope that these attacks stop now. And that is precisely what we are all trying to work towards," Singh, who was accompanied by Indian consul general to Melbourne Anita Nair, said.

Australia has recently seen a series of attacks on Indian students, the most serious being the assault of Shravan Kumar, a 25-year-old student from Andhra Pradesh who is battling for life in a hospital in Melbourne after being stabbed by a screwdriver by a group of teens in a weekend attack that also left three of his friends injured.

The High Commissioner said authorities in Australia have assured their full support, with the police saying that they will increase patrolling near railway stations, a favourite spot for snatching gangs.

"The well-being of Indian students and the community is top priority for India right now," Singh, who also met the Indian victim lying in coma in a city hospital, said.

Indian officials have met community representatives and students bodies on Thursday.

"I have received several e-mails asking whether Australia is a safe place to study in. That shows many proficient students coming to Australia do have this question on their minds," Singh said.

"Our immediate priority is to ensure that the victims of these attacks are given all assistance possible, to ensure that they have the best possible treatment, to ensure that their friends and families are given support," she added.

Meanwhile, a top police official in Melbourne denied that the attacks on Indian students are racially motivated. Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said there was no indication that a sharp rise in assaults and robberies against Indian students in Melbourne west were a result of race hate.

There was a perception that Indian people were 'weak prey' for criminals, he was quoted as saying by media.

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Natasha Chaku in Melbourne
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