Indian envoy in Oz visits Melbourne to assuage concerns

India`s top envoy in Australia has assured Indians that the government back home was "very closely monitoring" their well-being in this country.

Updated: Jan 18, 2010, 11:05 AM IST

Melbourne: India`s top envoy in Australia
has assured Indians that the government back home was "very
closely monitoring" their well-being in this country, as she
asked them to not allow "a few bad elements" to sour the
otherwise warm Indo-Asutralian relationship.

Indian High Commissioner Sujatha Singh, who travelled to
Melbourne, assured the Indian Sikh community that perpetrators
of the alleged incident of arson on a gurdwara here will be
brought to justice by the authorities.

Singh told the Indian community not to allow "a few bad
elements" to sour "the warmth and good feeling" which
continued to exist between the two nations.

Singh, who flew back to Canberrra today, assured the
community that the Indian government was "very closely
monitoring" the well-being of Indians in Australia.

Singh said she had been in daily -- "even sometimes
hourly" -- contact with the relevant Australian authorities to
address community`s safety concerns.

"The incidents that have taken place in recent times have
troubled us all, Indians and Australians alike. They have been
condemned in the strongest possible terms by all right-
thinking people," she said.

On her visit to the Lynbrook Gurdawara yesterday, she
said: "The incident of arson is receiving the full attention
of the concerned authorities".

"I would like to assure you that both governments are
united in their desire to see progress in bringing the
perpetrators of these incidents to justice, and in bringing
these incidents to a complete stop, ensuring that they do not
happen again," Singh told the worshippers.

Singh also met president of another gurdawara in
Blackburn, Dashran Singh, and vice-president of the Victorian
Sikh Association, Jag Bal.

An incident of fire was reported at the gurdwara premises
in Melbourne last week and police in probing the case. The
incident came amidst a series of unabated attacks on Indians
in the country, two of which turned fatal.

"Some of the unfortunate incidents of recent months
affecting the Indian community are of great concern to all of
us," Bal said, adding he hoped the high commissioner would be
able to give him a firm indication of what assurances the
Australian government had given her during their discussions
over the past fortnight.

"I want to discuss what support or counselling is being
given to the victims of race crimes in Melbourne," Bal said,
according to media report here.

The report quoted Detective Sergeant Gary Kear as saying
that contrary to initial police reports detectives did not
believe the Lynbrook arsonists were young kids mucking about.

"Witnesses have told us that voices that were heard
inside the temple were more mature," Kear said.

Last week the Blackburn temple wrote to Victoria Police
requesting additional security, particularly at night. Two
uniformed police officers were present at yesterday`s service.