Indian student attacked; Oz claims crime rate down



Melbourne: An Indian student was attacked by a group of teenage boys who tried to snatch his money while he was walking home from his part-time job, amid Australian police's claim that assault cases against the community have come down following tough action against crime.

Hervir Singh, a hospitality student, was attacked late at night in Ringwood area recently.

"Suddenly, four or five boys attacked me. They tried to snatch some money from me. I ran from there and then I called the police," he was quoted as saying by ABC.

Singh said he was attacked while he was walking home from his part-time work.

He said he was tempted to start carrying a knife to protect himself.

The incident came as Victorian Police Commander Trevor Carter, who is heading 'Operation Guardian', said that though the crime data is yet to be fully analysed, there is evidence that the number and severity of assaults and robberies have decreased.

"We're not seeing the sorts of violent crimes that we did previously, and that's right across the metropolitan area," he was quoted as saying by ABC.

"We're concentrating very much on those transport hubs. In those areas we're putting up to 100 police per night on top of what's normally there," he said.

Carter said police have used new powers to search more than 1,000 people. "So far to date we've seized 27 weapons, and most of those have been knives," he said.

"We're also doing some work in those areas where we know the students go to work. So for instance if it's a service station or 7/11 store or they're driving taxis, we're actually out there giving them some advice about being safe. We've visited over 430-odd premises."

Just over a year ago, 2,000 Indian students rallied in central Melbourne over continued violent attacks. At that time, the government of Victoria, which has witnessed maximum number of attacks against Indian students, vowed to do more to reduce racially-motivated crime.

More than 100 attacks against Indian students have been reported in Australia since June last year.

Since February this year, police have increased their presence at trouble spots in a bid to deter attackers.

The report also said that international students now felt safer as a result.

According to one of the students, the arrest last month of a teenager charged with the January murder of Nitin Garg has given them extra confidence in police.

"I feel safe. I always feel safe. Just use your own common sense," one said.

"I have no problem with security or anything. I am safe here," another said.

Gautum Gupta of Federation of Indian Students of Australia said he agreed there has been a marked improvement.

"We are getting reports from those areas like Maribyrnong and Footscray that the crime is actually coming down overall," he said.

Gupta said it will take time before Melbourne's international reputation recovers.

"I don't think it's going to improve so quickly - very, very unfortunate but I think it's going to take time," he said.

'Operation Guardian' is to continue next year as well.

PTI