Indian attacked in Australia, protest in Delhi over gurdwara fire


Melbourne/New Delhi : An Indian taxi driver was assaulted Friday in Australia’s Ballarat city, the latest in a string of attacks against Indians. The attacker was detained and sentenced to three months’ in jail. New Delhi, meanwhile, saw a protest against a fire at a gurdwara in Melbourne.

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The taxi driver, 24, was verbally abused by a passenger in Ballarat in Victoria province. The driver tried to take refuge at a service station at about 2 a.m. The passenger then followed the driver into the service station and allegedly assaulted him.

Ballarat Magistrate’s Court in Victoria sentenced to prison term 48-year-old Paul Brogden, who pleaded guilty to charges of making threats to kill, unlawful assault and criminal damage.

ABC Online reported that Magistrate Michelle Hodgson sentenced Brogden to three months’ jail for each charge, to be served concurrently.

He has also been ordered to pay more than $1,500 compensation to the victim.

Ballarat Taxi Co-operative chairman Stephen Armstrong said: “It’s just sad that a guy’s out there going about his business, providing a service for the patrons of Ballarat, and has to suffer that kind of verbal abuse and physical abuse just going about the course of his duties.”

There have been a string of attacks on Indians in Australia, causing an outcry in India.

Two of the vicious attacks proved fatal. While Ranjodh Singh’s body was found Dec 29, another Indian, Nitin Garg, was fatally stabbed in Melbourne Jan 2. An Indian was set on fire in Melbourne Jan 9 while another Indian was assaulted at Coogee beach in Sydney Jan 11.

The attacks also include a fire Wednesday at a gurdwara under construction close to Melbourne.

The attack on the Melbourne gurdwara had a resonance in Delhi.

A group of Sikh protesters strongly condemned the attacks on Indians in Australia.

They carried placards denouncing the attacks. A placard said “Stop racial abuse” while another read “Down with Aussie violence”.

They submitted a memorandum at the Australian high commission.

The blaze broke out in the Nanaksar Taath gurdwara complex Wednesday late night. The gurdwara is located in the southeastern suburb of Cranbourne, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s city centre.

The Indian government Thursday said it was in touch with the Australian authorities over the incident.

“Our consulate in Melbourne is in the process of ascertaining details from the Gurdwara Management Committee and also following up on the incident with Australian authorities,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash had told reporters in New Delhi.

“It is learnt that some unidentified miscreants had set fire at the construction site, which is located about 300-odd metres from the Nanaksar Taath Gurdwara,” he said.

Parkash Singh Badal, chief minister of the Indian state of Punjab, Wednesday strongly condemned the alleged torching, saying he will take up the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Badal linked the torching bid to the recent incidents of alleged “racial discrimination” against Indians in Australia.