Racial attacks: Indian students take out rally in Oz

Racial attacks: Indian students take out rally in Oz

 

The 'peace rally' organised by bodies like Federation of Indian Students in Australia (FISA) and National Union of Students kicked off from outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where Kumar is in a critical condition in the intensive care unit after being stabbed by a screwdriver by a group of teens on Sunday last.

From the hospital, the marchers proceeded to the Victorian Parliament in Spring Street, where they shouted slogans like 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'.

"We want justice for the victims of racist violence," demanded the students, who also displayed placards carrying messages like 'Save our Students' and 'Stop Racist Violence'.

Police were present in strength to maintain law and order as the rally led to traffic diversion at the Spring Street, which was completely blocked by the demonstrators who hoped to meet the Victorian Parliamentarians to put forward their demands.

Reacting to the students' rally, Indian Consul General in Melbourne, Anita Nayar, described it as freedom of expression.

"Australia is a democratic country and it (this rally) is freedom of expression," she told PTI. However, she hoped that that event remained peaceful and did not turn ugly.

Television footage of Kumar fighting for life in the hospital sent shock waves among the 95,000-strong Indian student community in Australia, which is home to over 4 lakh international students.

FISA had said yesterday that the rally was being organised in response to the growing anger in the Indian community against increasing hate crimes.

"The purpose is to create an awareness about an increasing number of hate crimes within the state (of Victoria) and to promote racial harmony and peace," FISA had said in a statement.

Another Indian student, Baljinder Singh, stabbed by two attackers recently, has been discharged from hospital while Rajesh Kumar, who suffered 30 per cent burns after a petrol bomb was hurled at him in his home, was being treated in a Sydney hospital.

Insisting that Australia is not a racist country, John McCarthy, its High Commissioner in New Delhi, said "we should cooperate to ensure that incidents of atrocities don't occur."

"We should ensure Indian students are well-informed about Australia which is generally a very safe country. We are proud of our record as a multi-cultural country," he told NDTV.

"We abhor racism and we are going to maintain a policy to make sure that Melbourne and other cities remain safe for all foreign students," McCarthy said, adding additional police had been deployed to protest the areas in question.

He said the Australian government was determined to ensure that such incidents did not take place again.

"Any country in the world has an amount of racism. We think, however, that our record is a good one. we have about 200 different nationalities in Australia. To be a tolerant country, to be able to handle different races, that's what we are about. But like anywhere in the world we have to manage racism - we have laws against it," McCarthy said.

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