India wants `credible answers` from Oz over attacks

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 11:58

Melbourne: Concerned over a series of attacks on its nationals, India on Wednesday sought "credible answers" from Australia so that it could send a clear message to worried parents of more than 120,000 Indian students here.

"It is important to understand that there is anger and frustration in India over what is happening (in Australia)," Indian High Commissioner Sujatha Singh said in an article
published in the Age newspaper here.

She said that the anxious parents of over 120,000 Indian students in Australia are asking for clear answers to certain questions: "Are our children safe in Australia? Why
does it seem that only, or mainly, Indians are the victims?

Are the assailants being caught? Are they being punished? Is the situation becoming better or worse?"

"I cannot overstate the importance of keeping the human element in the forefront in providing credible answers to these questions and sending a clear message to parents far
away in India, worrying about their children in Australia," she wrote ahead of her visit to India to brief the government over the steps taken by Australia to address its concerns.

Over 100 cases of attacks on Indians have been reported since the last year in Australia, mostly in Victoria, and the issue has been taken up by top representatives of the Indian government with their Australian counterparts.

"The assaults on Indian students and members of the larger Indian community in Australia over the past few months have puzzled us all... The fundamental issue is the growing number of attacks, which seem to be disproportionately affecting Indians, especially in and around Melbourne," she said.

"We are told that one of the reasons our students are being attacked in Melbourne is that they take public transport late at night. In this case, it should then apply to Indian
students all across Australia," she said, adding that the students in the other cities, however, do not seem to be facing these incidents on the same scale.

"I have been called to India for consultations this week, in the run-up to the upcoming Parliament session, beginning on February 22," Singh said.

She said India recognises several measures taken by Australia to address the various issues, many of them complex and interrelated.

But said, "it is important to go beyond rhetoric. We have to make the situation better. It is necessary to see the results on the ground."

Australia yesterday acknowledged that some of the recent violence against Indians had clearly been "racially motivated" and vowed to "punish the culprits with the full
force of law".

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told the Parliament yesterday that "if any of these attacks have been racist in nature -- and it seems clear that some of them have -- they
will be punished with the full force of law".


First Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 11:58

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