Dangerous sign

Attacks on Indians in Australia, which had waned over the past month, have returned with a vengeance. A group of Australians are reported to have hurled racist abuse at some Indians in Melbourne and damaged their car. And for the first time ever, the Indians hit back. They beat up two of the assailants. This marks a worrying new turn in the violence targeting the Indian community there. While this could be a one-off incident of retaliatory violence, there is a possibility that others would feel encouraged to engage in similar counter-violence. Some are likely to justify the retaliation by the Indians as understandable, given the fact that the community has quietly borne the taunts and violence by Australian hoodlums and racist elements for some time now. Indeed, an Australian police officer said that the two Australians who were beaten up got their ‘just desserts’. However, Indian retaliatory violence against the Australians must not be condoned.

Verbal abuse and violence against Indians studying or working in Australia, which has been going on for some years now, erupted to the fore in May this year, when some students were seriously injured. The attacks triggered serious concerns here in India. Fearing that the flow of students to Australia would drop, officials promised action. There was a lull in violence. But there has been a spurt in attacks on Indians in recent days, indicating that steps to protect Indians have not worked. The body of an Indian businessman with stab wounds has been found. The targeting of Indians continues.
Furthermore, the retaliatory violence by Indians indicates that the patience of the community is running out. It is a sign that authorities should heed as it indicates that the community does not place much confidence in the Australian police or justice system any longer; hence the decision by a section in the community to take the law into their own hands to teach their assailants a lesson. However, the Indian community must tread carefully. It has generally been looked upon as a model community, one that is hardworking and law-abiding. That positive image could change if a few hot-heads in the community go around beating locals. Indian community leaders must rein in these hot-heads. While counter-attacks will send out a strong signal that Indians should not be messed around with, it will also leave the community vulnerable to more attacks.

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