Australia still claims attacks 'not racist'

NEW DELHI, Jan 15, DHNS:

Australian High Commissioner to India, Peter Varghese, on Friday said that it was important not to jump to conclusions about the motives of attacks on Indians in Down Under or to take initial media reports (about such incidents) as fact. He reaffirmed the importance of allowing police investigations to run their course.

“The claims that the burnt body of Ranjodh Singh found in Griffith on December 29, was a racial attack should be treated with caution. The two persons detained by New South Wales police in relation to this appalling incident were in fact Indian nationals,” he said.
Varghese made the remarks on a day New Delhi again expressed its displeasure over the string of attacks on Indians in Australia.

Ranjodh was a labour contractor in New South Wales. Reports in Australian media suggested that his murder might be linked to the issue of unpaid wages in the fruit-picking industry.

Two Indian seasonal workers were reportedly detained by cops at Sydney Airport last week, but were later released after questioning.

 After Ranjodh, accountancy student Nitin Garg was stabbed to death in West Footscray in Melbourne. This was followed by an attack on Jaspreet Singh at Essendon in north-west Melbourne on January 9 last. Jaspreet was set alight by the attackers.
A section of Australian media carried reports suggesting that Jaspreet might have set himself alight. His wife Paramjeet Kaur refuted the suggestion.

Varghese on Friday said it was far from certain that what happened to Jaspreet had been an attack. Varghese said an Australian court on January 15 last had sentenced a man, who had attacked an Indian taxi driver at Ballarat in Victoria, to three months in jail, that day itself.

“The speedy justice provided in this case shows the Australian Government’s seriousness in ensuring that high levels of safety and security for all are maintained,” said the Australian envoy.

A total of 34 people have been arrested so far in connection with attacks on Indians in Victoria alone, he said.

He added that the investigation into a fire at a Gurdwara in Melbourne on Wednesday was still on.

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