Another attack

The Indian community in Australia is in a state of shock following the gruesome killing of Tosha Thakkar, a 24-year-old Indian woman studying in Sydney. Tosha is believed to have been raped before she was murdered. Police say that her assailant stuffed her body in a suitcase and dumped it in a canal. Police have taken into custody Tosha’s neighbour, a boy of Sri Lankan origin. The murder has revived unhappy memories for the Indian community in Australia. Over the past three years but particularly in 2009-10, several Indian students and immigrants in Melbourne and Victoria were attacked, even fatally. These attacks were believed by the Indian community to be motivated by racist hatred, although the Australian authorities  maintained that these were random and opportunistic, motivated by economic issues rather than race. The attacks heightened  tension between them and the Australian government and even put some pressure on India-Australia ties. Tosha’s murder seems is bound to revive apprehensions of the Indian community in Australia. The sense of security of the community has been hit once again.

Heightened insecurity often prompts people to look for someone to blame. And in Australia, the Indian community has often blamed racism for their woes. They were justified in doing so in several instances in the past. However, preliminary investigations into Tosha’s murder indicate that racism did not play a role. Yet sections of the Indian community have been quick to label the crime as racist. This broad-brushing of all crime targeting members of the Indian community as racist is not in the interest of the latter. It will not help in understanding or preventing the attacks. It is important that members of the Indian community in Australia are more restrained in their response.

Insecurity prompted by the attacks on Indians over the past several years resulted in a dramatic drop — around 50 per cent — in the number of students going to Australia. The Australian government must improve security for Indian immigrants. Whether motivated by race or not, crimes against Indians in Australia is rising. The Indian government must ensure that its citizens living overseas are secure.

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