Racist comments quite common in Australia, say Indians back from Oz

By Alkesh Sharma, IANS,

Chandigarh : Racist comments against Indian students in Australia are quite common and the recent spate of attacks on the community is not new, say Indians who have been to that country and come away with unhappy memories.

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The attacks on Indians in Sydney and Melbourne has also dashed the dreams of many students here who were aspiring to go Down Under for higher studies.

Nishant Jain, who returned to India leaving his management course in between, told IANS: “I must admit that I left Sydney in just two months because I could not adjust there. Undoubtedly you have equal rights and all other privileges, but still at many instances white people made you aware of your Asian origin.”

“The situation is more severe in the suburbs as compared to towns where you may come across racist comments quite often, and the problem is that you cannot do anything,” said Jain, who lives in Zirakpur town of Punjab, around 10 km from here.

Bank executive Satpal Sharma has been forced to halt preparations to send his son to Australia for further studies. Sharma told IANS here: “My son has passed Class 12 this year and I was planning to send him to Australia for further studies. We have already applied in four-five institutes in Sydney and Melbourne. But now I am quite apprehensive about it.”

“In fact, after reading reports about these attacks on Indian students, my son, who was earlier very enthusiastic about studying in Australia, has lost his eagerness,” said Sharma.

Mewa Singh, the father of Baljinder Singh, one of the victims of the attacks, told IANS: “Baljinder did not even tell me about this incident and we came to know about it only through television. We were shocked as we did not expect this to happen to our son in an alien land even in our worst nightmare.”

Baljinder, 25, a resident of Karnal in Haryana, around 100 km from here, was stabbed in the abdomen and robbed in Melbourne May 27.

His father, a veterinary doctor, said: “I was against his going abroad for studies, as he was a bright student. He did his BCA (Bachelors in Computer Application) and wanted to pursue masters in the same stream in Australia.”

However, due to lack of money Baljinder had to change his field and took admission in hotel management and flew to Melbourne in November 2006, his father said.

Baljinder’s mother Krishna said: “Though we have spoken to him over the phone but still everyone is worried, and we are praying for his quick recovery. We want to see him in India at the earliest.”

“This is not the first time that such incidents have happened in Australia. Not only students, but many permanent residents of Indian origin based there have been attacked in the past,” said Akmal Khan, an Australia resident who had come to meet his family members in Patiala in Punjab, around 60 km from here.

“Our government should wake up from its deep slumber and raise this issue strongly. It should appeal to the Australian government to formulate some stringent law to deal effectively with this problem. The guilty should be dealt with strictly in such cases,” said Khan.

The parents and relatives of students studying in Australia are anxious about their well-being.

“Initially I was very concerned about my son’s safety. He is studying hotel management in Sydney. But after speaking to him I feel relaxed as he told me that the situation is quite normal there,” said Kanwaljit Khokhar, a businessman.