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29-year-old Indian set on fire in Melbourne

Last updated on: January 09, 2010 13:50 IST

In yet another attack targeting Indians in Australia, a 29-year-old man from the country was set on fire by a group of four assailants here, drawing strong condemnation from a student body which called such assaults unacceptable and asked authorities not to "dodge" the issue.

Jaspreet Singh was attacked in Essendon area of northwest Melbourne shortly before 2.00 am local time (0730 Hours IST), a week after an Indian student was stabbed to death amid a slew of assaults on the community in Australia.

Singh, who suffered 20 per cent burns including on his arms, chest and face, was admitted to 'The Alfred' hospital.

Singh and his wife left a dinner party in Essendon, in the city's northwest, between 1.30 am and 2 am and drove to their nearby home in Grice Crescent. He dropped his wife at home and had gone to park his car when he was attacked, local media reported.

Police said that as he was getting out of the car, four men attacked him, pushing him back against the vehicle and pouring an unknown fluid on him. One of the men then ignited the fluid with a lighter before all the attackers fled.

The victim, who is now in a stable condition in the hospital, ran from the car while peeling off his clothes.

Denying any racial angle to the attack, detective acting senior sergeant Neil Smyth said it is not yet known who the four men could be or their relationship to the victim. He said investigations indicate the attack was random.

India following up case

Indian government has said it was vigorously following up with Australian authorities the latest attack on an Indian origin man in Melbourne and asked the media to exercise restraint in reporting as it could have a bearing on bilateral ties.

"The Indian High Commissioner in Canberra and Consul General in Melbourne are following up this matter vigorously with the Australian authorities," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.

Terming the incident as "unfortunate", Prakash said the condition of the victim was not critical but he has been hospitalised and is receiving treatment.

"Under the circumstances, the media is advised to exercise utmost restraint in reporting on these sensitive issues, as it could aggravate the situation and could have a bearing on our bilateral relations with Australia," the spokesman said.

The attack comes a week after the murder of 21-year-old Indian graduate Nitin Garg in a Yarraville park while he was on his way to his part-time job in a restaurant.

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