Centre advises students from India not to visit Oz

Centre advises students from India not to visit Oz

Satnam Singh cries as he receives his brother Ranjot Singh's mortal remains at IGI Airport in New Delhi on Friday. Ranjot Singh was killed in Australia late last month. PTI As the body of Ranjodh Singh, an Indian killed in New South Wales a few weeks back, was flown in here, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said: “We are doing all that we can. An advisory has been issued not to visit Australia,” adding that the Indian government was “pressurising the Australian government to find the reasons behind the attacks, why have they happened and how they have happened. The reasons behind them (attacks) should be investigated.”

MEA spokesperson Vishnu Prakash was quick to describe Kaur’s statement as a reference to a June 12, 2009 advisory that spelled out the dos and don’ts for Indian students planning to leave for Australia for further studies. Prakash denied that a fresh advisory had been issued.

“The (previous) advisory encourages students to conduct due diligence and carefully apprise themselves of the ground realities, including suitability of the institution in question, costs involved and consular procedures,” he said. 

Meanwhile the arrests of three Indians – Gurpreet Singh, 23, and his wife Harpreet Bhullar, 20 – charged with the brutal murder of Ranjodh Singh, helped the Australian envoy stress their long-held stand that the attack on Ranjodh was not racist.

“The arrests underlined the importance of allowing investigations to run their course and not to jump to conclusions based on initial reports. The identity of those arrested (all three are Indian nationals), as well as the conclusions reached by the investigation, clearly showed that racism had not been a factor,” said Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese in a statement on Friday.

Varghese said the case had been widely reported in the Indian media as a racist attack and he hoped that the record would be set straight. Ranjodh Singh was set on fire and left to die in the New South Wales farming town of Griffith. His charred body was found in December 2009.

A third suspect, a 25-year-old man, was arrested in Wagga Wagga, where Ranjodh was living. He arrived a year ago in Australia and was working in the same harvesting business as the couple charged with his murder.

According to Kaur: “I think they (Australians) are open now to investigation taking place because of the meeting between foreign minister S M Krishna and his counterpart in London. The first meeting of the joint working group will be over the weekend in the state of Victoria. The attacks on taxi drivers are also something not really acceptable to us (Indians and the Indian government).”

On the sidelines of a conference on Afghanistan in London, Krishna conveyed to the UK Foreign Minister Stephen Smith concerns about the attacks on Indian students continuing unabated despite high-level assurances.

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