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Indian toddler found dead in Australia

Last Updated: Saturday, March 6, 2010 - 00:15

Melbourne: A team of homicide detectives are searching for clues a day after a three-year-old Indian boy was found dead near Melbourne airport following his sudden disappearance from a house 20 km away.

The body of Gurshan Singh Channa was found on Wildwood Road, Oaklands Junction Thursday night after a massive search following complaint by his parents who were staying in Lalor on a holiday.

The incident came to light after Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith visited New Delhi Wednesday in the wake of series of attacks against Indians Down Under.

An autopsy on the toddler`s body has not revealed how he died. Further forensic tests will be conducted to ascertain the cause of death, police said Friday.

The boy`s mother Harpreet Kaur Channa called the police 45 minutes after he went missing. Police said the boy was found in the same clothes he was wearing when he went missing - a grey top and blue jeans.

They, however, declined to give details of injuries he had suffered, or to speculate on the precise cause of his death, according to The Age.

Detective Inspector Steve Clark who is heading the investigation into the case, said Friday an autopsy has been conducted but the results were inconclusive.

He said police were appealing for anyone who witnessed the body being dumped near Oaklands Junction or who saw the boy in the streets around his parent`s Lalor home after he went missing.

Detectives were returning to Lalor Friday to re-interview neighbours and people who were living in the house with the boy`s parents.

Gurshan`s parents have asked to see the boy`s body and arrangements will be made for them to see him at the Coroner`s Court today, where they are also receiving counselling.

Deputy Commissioner Crime Sir Ken Jones said the quick police response - an immediate alert and search - was because "this was such a young vulnerable child".

Jones said "anything that can be done, will be done" in this case.

At a press conference Thursday night, Jones said it was believed the boy had been murdered.

"We are treating as worst case... as a homicide," Sir Ken said. "This is a terrible tragedy. We are doing everything in our power to establish what happened. Clearly the circumstances are suspicious, so we are assuming the worst".

Asked if any family members were suspects, Jones said there were no suspects "at this stage".

"We are taking the information provided by the parents at face value. At this stage we have no suspects".

Assuring Indian community in Australia, the deputy commissioner said, "If foul play has taken place we will do everything within our power to find out precisely what has happened and to bring people to justice".

Jones said the family had been in Australia for several months on a vacation, and had been due to return to India soon.

Meanwhile, Victoria`s Prime Minister John Brumby has briefed the Indian High Commissioner Sujatha Singh about the boy`s "deeply distressing" death.

Brumby told Singh that no stone would be left unturned in the investigation into the death.

"Any death of a child is a terrible, terrible tragedy. The death of a child so young is a terrible, unthinkable tragedy," he said.

"We hope this crime can be solved and resolved as soon as possible."

It was important that people don`t jump to conclusion about the death at this time, Brumby said, adding that he had been kept regularly briefed by police, who have decided to treat the case as a homicide.

"Every possible police resource is being devoted," he said.

"There are no visible signs of the cause of death at this stage ... but I think it`s very important that no one jumps to conclusions," Brumby told reporters Friday.

"The most important thing is that we find the cause of death and bring those responsible to justice and I can only repeat from the point of view of the government and the police force in Victoria, every single resource is being devoted to this effort," he added.

Govt to arrange for bringing back toddler`s body

Terming the death of
three-year-old Gurshan Singh Channa in Melbourne as "very very
sad and tragic", Government today said all kind of support
would be extended to the toddler`s family to bring back the
body from Australia.

"The Government of India feels it is a very very sad and
a tragic event and it has been echoed by the Australian Prime
Minister himself...They have assured us and Mr Krishna, who
raised the issue, that the perpetrators would be brought to
book," Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur
told reporters here.

"Assurance has been given to Gurshan`s family that all
the help and assistance would be provided to bring back the
body," she said on the sidelines of a function ahead of the
International Women`s day celebrations here.

Gurshan`s body was found on the side of a road in
Melbourne`s northern suburbs six hours after he disappeared
from the family home yesterday.

With IANS & PTI Inputs

First Published: Saturday, March 6, 2010 - 00:15
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