Melbourne: Three Indians were among a group of six South Asians who were denied entry by a bar here in what is being described by them as "a case of racism", amid a slew of attacks on students from the community in Australia.
"We had gone to the bar to throw a farewell party for one of our friends, Abhishek Aggarwal, who is about to leave for India" on Wednesday, said Sujan Pathak, a Nepalese citizen who was part of the group.
However, he said the youths, all in their mid-20s, were turned away by the Melbourne Centre Lion Hotel bar without giving any explanation.
The group of friends -- three Indians and three Nepalese -- just wanted to know the reason for this and contacted police who refused to help them on the issue, Pathak said.
All bars here display a notice outside that they can turn away any customer without giving any explanation.
"We tried to get into the bar, There were so many guys in front of us and right behind us as well in the queue. They denied us (entry), said `you guys can`t get in`," Aggarwal said.
"We were not drunk, we were carrying our age proof, we were properly attired. But still they said `you guys can`t get in`. They didn`t give us any reason. We waited there for 10 minutes. All other guys were getting in... but we were not allowed to go inside.”
"We called police and asked them for help. We told them this is a case of racism, because I don`t see any other reason for not letting us in," he said. "Police said we`ll come there as soon as possible. I got a call after 20 minutes. There was a guy from the police who said `What`s the issue`? Can you please elaborate`? When I explained the situation to him, he said `sorry sir, this is not a case of racism. There`s nothing we can do about it`," Aggarwal said.
He said he was told by the policeman that they should go to another bar if this one was not letting them in. "I told them this is not about this bar or that particular bar. This is about my dignity, my race...It`s a case of racism."
The incident came amid a string of attacks on Indians in Australia, mostly in Melbourne, with 21-year-old student Nitin Garg, who was stabbed to death by unidentified assailants here, becoming the first victim of such assaults this year. Another Indian youth, Ranjodh Singh, was killed in New South Wales last month.
Nearly 100 cases of attacks on Indians were reported in Australia in 2009 as against 17 incidents of assaults in 2008.
On Wednesday, an under-construction gurdwara in south-east suburb of Melbourne was damaged in what police said was a "deliberately lit fire", prompting an outraged Sikh community to call it "race-related" and "an attack on Indians”.
Australian authorities have been insisting that the country remained a "safe" place to live, study and work.