The attack drew condemnation from the Indian community and the government, but the police said a racial angle is “highly unlikely”.
Jaspreet Singh was attacked in Essendon area of northwest Melbourne shortly before 2 am local time (Indian time 8.30 pm on Friday), a week after Nitin Garg, a student , was stabbed to death amid a spate of assaults on Indians in Australia.
Singh, who suffered 20 per cent burns, including on his arms, chest and face, was admitted to The Alfred Hospital.
He and his wife left a dinner party in Essendon and drove to their nearby home in Grice Crescent. He dropped his wife at home and had gone to park his car when he was attacked.
Police said as he was getting out of the car, four men attacked him, pushing him back against the vehicle and pouring an unknown fluid on him. One of the men then ignited the fluid with a lighter before all the attackers fled.
The victim, who is now in a stable condition in the hospital, ran from the car while peeling off his clothes.
Acting Senior Sergeant Neil Smyth said it is not yet known who the four men could be or their relationship to the victim. He said investigations indicate the attack was random. “It’s unlikely to be a racially motivated incident as due to the timing and the nature, it’s highly unlikely anyone could have targeted the victim in the circumstances,” Smyth said.
The incident is being investigated by the arson and explosives squad of police. Singh’s friends said he has been living in the city on a spouse visa.
Australian Deputy Premier Julia Gillard condemned the attack on Singh, saying the “matter remains under investigation by Victorian police and government would not comment further until police provide more information”.
Meanwhile, India asked the Australian government to make preventive actions to make it sure that such incident does not happen again. “We came to know that another attack has taken place in Australia. It is unfortunate that things are not moving as they promised,” said Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi.
“It is very disturbing for every one of us in the government as well as for the people of the country,” Ravi added.
He said that India expected the Australian government to act tough on the perpetrators of such crime and put them behind bars.
The Ministry of External Affairs on Saturday issued a statement advising the media “to exercise utmost restraint in reporting on these sensitive issues (of attacks on Indians in Australia),” and to make sure reports does not “aggravate the situation” and have a bearing on the bilateral relations.
Meanwhile, security around the Australian High Commission in New Delhi is likely to be stepped up after some people staged a protest outside it on Saturday.
DHNS and Agencies