Attacks on Indians harm Indian ties: Aussie govt

CANBERA: The government is committed to preventing attacks against Indian students studying in Australia, which are harming relations with India and damaging the nation’s reputation, a minister said today while conceding that some assaults appeared racially motivated.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said his government would report to his Indian counterpart, SM Krishna, this week on what progress authorities have made concerning the attacks in the southern city of Melbourne.

Indian students staged street marches following the near-fatal stabbing of an Indian student at a party in September, and attention to the issue intensified after a 21-year-old Indian graduate was stabbed to death last month.

Smith said police in four states had recently made arrests for violent crimes against Indians, including 45 arrested in Victoria.

“We also need to accept and to understand that

it has considerably damaged Australia’s reputation in India and among the Indian people; indeed it has been widely noticed beyond India and south Asia,” Smith told Parliament.

Australia has been criticised in the Indian media for playing down racism as a motive for the violence. Smith said today it “seems clear” that some attacks had been racially motivated and the perpetrators would be punished.

India, Australia’s fastest growing export market, has also become the largest supplier of overseas students studying in Australian colleges over the past decade.

Almost half the Indian students live in Melbourne, where most of the recent violence has been reported.