Four people of Indian ethnic origin were recently assaulted by 20 people outside a pub with an equal number of bystanders watching and shouting racial slurs like "Go back to India". No, this did not happen deep inside Taliban territory in Afghanistan. The despicable act happened at a place which is the epicentre of cultural renaissance in Australia, a city voted to be one of the best places to live in the world and a city which prides itself on being the multicultural hub of Australia.
Melbourne is home to four million people which includes more than 27 per cent who were not born in Australia. In the last five years, total international student numbers in Victoria have almost doubled from 288,400 to 547,663.
And the ones who were bashed were not Indian students but Australian-born Indians, second generation Australians. In almost all of the past assault cases, most of the victims were students, but this time the attack happened to Australian residents.
Anybody tracking these attacks in the past few years will easily come to the conclusion that the sphere and intensity of attacks against Indian students has actually increased, not decreased.
This specific act did not involve any robbery. It was just a wanton act of causing bodily harm to anyone remotely being seen as an Indian. It is a sign of medieval times, something which all citizens of the world should abhor. This is racism to the core displayed by the attackers and by the people who watched without intervening.
Hats off to the Victorian police for keeping the news under the carpet: it speaks a lot about the culture and ineptitude of Victorian police. Remember all the sermons and media releases as to how Indian students are shy in approaching police and part of the problem. Well how about now? In this case there was no apparent reason for the attack. There are questions need to be asked now
Did Kevin Rudd's office or the foreign office know about these acts? If yes, did they inform their Indian counterparts about these acts? They should have been talking to the media from day one, informing the community about the incident and countering a potential flare up in the Indian media and within sections of the Indian establishment. How many other incidents have the police quietly dealt with?
The Indian media's appetite for coverage of any violent incidents against Indian students is encouraging even more victims to come forwards and speak about their experiences. The world's landscape has changed and this does not seem to be apparent to the police media department which appears to be still living in a different era.
This act is sure to inspire more copy cat acts and should serve as a warning to all those people who have been watching these incidents from the sidelines and have so far spent their energies in blaming Indian students for provoking all the bashing acts. Silently condoning these acts will only serve the interests of the perpetrators of this crime. Today it is Indian students, but if we don’t take a hard line, soon this racism will engulf other demographic segments.
Student bashing should not be allowed to become a way of life in Australia. Kevin Rudd may blame urban decay for this but that does not absolve him of any responsibility, especially when he has given an assurance to another sovereign government that he will protect Indian students. Victorian Premier John Brumby and Victorian police hardly inspire any confidence.
The ball is entirely inside Australian court.
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