Indian set ablaze in Oz; India wants preventive action
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Last Updated: Sunday, January 10, 2010, 00:13
  
Melbourne/New Delhi: In yet another attack in a week, a 29-year-old Indian was set ablaze Saturday by four unidentified men in Melbourne. Voicing outrage at this "very disturbing" incident, new Delhi asked Canberra to take preventive action to check these crimes.

The Australian government condemned the incident but insisted that it was not racially motivated.

Jaspreet Singh, a 29-year-old Indian man, was set ablaze Saturday by four unidentified men at Essendon in Melbourne while he was parking his car shortly before 2.00 a.m.

He is said to be in a stable condition in Alfred Hospital with burns to 20 percent of his body.

Police were told the man had dropped his wife home and gone to park his car after a dinner party when he was attacked in Grice Crescent.

According to the police, as the man was getting out of the car, four men attacked him, pushed him back against the vehicle and poured an unidentified fluid on him. One of the men then ignited the fluid with a lighter and all four fled, The Age newspaper said.

The victim reportedly ran from the car while peeling off his clothes.

Voicing outrage at continuing attacks on Indian students, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi asked the Australian authorities to take strong action and deliver better results.

"We came to know that another attack has taken place in Australia. It is unfortunate that things are not moving as they promised. It is very disturbing for everyone of us in the government as well as for the people of the country," Ravi told reporters here.

"I want to make it loudly clear that the (Australian) government should take preventive action," he said on the sidelines of the 8th annual conclave of the Indian diaspora.

"Why cannot they arrest them and put them behind bars and prosecute them? My suggestion is that please take preventive action against these elements. Our government expresses serious concerns and waiting for better results," Ravi said.

Calling for "preventive arrest" of such criminal elements, Ravi said, "the Australian police must be efficient enough to mark these people, who are creating this and it is for them to understand."

The gruesome attack on Jaspreet Singh in the early hours of Saturday took place a week after Nitin Garg, a 21-year-old Indian student, was fatally stabbed in Melbourne, provoking India to renew its warning to the Australian authorities to ensure the security of its students.

Garg's body was flown here from Melbourne via Dubai Saturday afternoon and handed over to his family.

Reacting to the incident, India's external affairs ministry Saturday said it was "vigorously" pursuing with the Australian authorities the latest attack and clarified that Singh's condition was "not critical".

The Australian government condemned the incident but insisted that it was not racially motivated.

"The government condemns all acts of violence in the strongest possible way," Australia's Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun.

"This matter remains under investigation by the Victoria police," she said, adding that the government would not comment further until the police provided more information.

The incident is being investigated by the arson and explosives squad. Police have appealed for public assistance to find the victim's clothes, which he shed as he ran.

Crime squad investigators say the circumstances leading up to the 29-year-old being set on fire Saturday are "unusual" - but not racially motivated, the Herald Sun reported.

"I believe there's no reason at this stage to consider this in any way racially motivated," said Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Neil Smyth.

Days after the Australian authorities reportedly accused India of whipping up hysteria over attacks on students, the Indian government asked the media 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 Indian High Commissioner in Canberra and Consul General in Melbourne are following up this matter vigorously with the Australian authorities," India's external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said in New Delhi.

After the fatal stabbing of Garg, India's external affairs ministry had issued an advisory asking Indians studying in Australia and those planning to do so to take extra security precautions while moving around in that country.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna had even questioned the choice of Australia as an education destination by Indian students, asking them to be more discriminating in the choice of courses they pursue in that country. He has also warned that if attacks continued, it could impact bilateral ties.

IANS


First Published: Sunday, January 10, 2010, 00:13


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