Indian students hold rally against attacks in Australia


Melbourne : Thousands of Indian students gathered Sunday outside the Victorian parliament here to protest the spate of attacks on them in Australia.

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They shouted slogans against the Australian government and the police for not being able to protect them from the recent attacks.

The students were joined by many Indian community members from all over Melbourne.

The rally was organised by the Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA) alongwith Melbourne University’s Graduate Student Association.

It was held following growing anger in the community over at least four assaults on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney that has left one battling for life and another recuperating from a stab injury.

Graduate Student Association president Paul Coats called on the Australian government to immediately implement a policy aimed at curbing the “growing culture of racial intolerance”.

“I am opposed to calls for more police as it appears that the police have been part of the problem… they blame Indian students for ‘making themselves targets’ rather than blaming the climate of racism in Australia and racist governments that exploit Indian international students through the commodification of education,” Coats was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun.

FISA, an organisation working for Indian students in Australia, said the rally would end with a candle light vigil in support of the victims of crimes.

“The purpose is to create an awareness about an increasing number of hate crimes within the state and to promote racial harmony and peace,” FISA said in a statement Saturday.

It appealed to Australians to support people from different ethnic backgrounds. “We encourage all Victorians to show support for residents of all ethnic backgrounds,” it said.

There are over 80,000 Indian students in Australia.

Hospitality graduate Rajesh Kumar received 30 percent burns last Sunday evening after an unidentified person hurled a petrol bomb through the window of his Harris Park home in Sydney he shared with other Indians.

There have been three other attacks on Indian students in quick succession in Melbourne, with the first incident being reported May 9 while the most recent took place Monday.

Sravan Kumar Theerthala, 25, was assaulted Sunday in Melbourne along with three other students. The attackers allegedly hurled racist abuses at the Indian students and hit Theerthala with a screwdriver.

Another Indian student Baljinder Singh was robbed and stabbed in Melbourne Monday.

Singh had left a railway station when two men carrying weapons approached him and demanded money. As he searched through his bag to hand over his wallet he was stabbed in the abdomen.

Sourabh Sharma, 21, was beaten by a group of young men as he travelled on a train May 9.

Sharma suffered a fractured cheek bone and a broken tooth in the attack, which was captured on closed circuit television cameras.

He said he was also racially abused and robbed during the attack.