Australia assures India of safety of Indian students


Sydney/New Delhi: Australia Thursday assured India that “firm action” will be taken against those responsible for attacks on Indian students and stressed that inputs from the Indian community will be factored in a safety plan for international students.

Support TwoCircles

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, the first cabinet level Indian minister to visit Australia since the recent spike in attacks on Indian students, met New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees and discussed violence and difficulties faced by Indian students.

Rees assured India that “firm action” will be taken against those responsible for the recent wave of attacks on Indian students that had created outrage in India and the diaspora community.

Rees also assured Krishna that inputs from the Indian community will be included in the action plan for international students. He informed the minister that a meeting of the task force on the issue was to be held Friday.

Besides meeting representatives of the department of education, the Foreign Office and the law enforcement authorities, Krishna interacted with Indian students and the Indian community.

The discussions focused on monitoring the role of travel agents and mechanisms to monitor private colleges in Australia, official sources said in Delhi.

The Indian consulate has started a weekly interaction with Indian students to discuss their problems and safety issues, the sources said.

After the meeting, Krishna said that he was satisfied with the steps taken by Australian authorities to ensure the safety of the students.

Indians are “by and large most welcome in Australia”, Krishna observed, according to the ABC Online.

Krishna, who is on a five-day visit to Down Under, said he did not believe that Australia was a racist nation, adding that he was satisfied with the reassurance he received and will return to India with the premier’s message.

“Indian students are going to be safe in Australia,” he said.

At least 19 Indian students have been brutally attacked in Melbourne and Sydney, with the first attack in the recent spurt taking place May 9. Nearly 100,000 Indian students are studying in Australia, contributing around $2 billion annually to the host country.

Besides the attacks, an education and migration scam has been exposed and a college, where many students are Indian, has shut down, putting a question mark on their future.

Krishna will meet his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith and call on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to discuss a range of issues, including the attacks on Indian students that has put the growing bilateral relationship under strain.

Besides Sydney, he will also go to Melbourne to hear first-hand about the problems faced by Indian students and will discuss their safety and security with the state leadership.

He will later participate in the Annual Post Forum Dialogue Meeting of the 16-nation Pacific Island Forum (PIF), at which India is a dialogue partner, in Cairns in northeast Australia.