18 Indian protesters detained for 'breaching peace' in Australia

Another Indian taxi-driver, student come under attack


As many as 18 Indian youths were detained for “breaching peace” after the protesting students, shaken by a wave of racial assaults, blocked the busiest street of this city in Victorian state, demanding justice. The protest, however, was called off early Monday morning after the protesters accused police of high-handedness and “ramrodding” them to break up their sit-in.

The identities of the 18 detained were not yet known but there were reports that they have been set free. “There was definitely an amount of excessive force by the Victoria police,” a protester, Yogesh Malhotra, told ABC radio. Activists alleged some individual protesters were punched and dragged away. Victoria police commissioner Simon Overland, however, said the action was justified as protesters had ignored a final order to leave the busy street. “There were blows, as I said, because arms had been linked, and there was a lot of resistance going on,” he said, agreeing some force was used.

Attacks condemned

As the attacks echoed in Parliament, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd assured India that perpetrators of the recent assaults on Indian citizens here will be met “with full force of the law”. He condemned the incidents as “senseless” and “deplorable” acts of violence.
Meanwhile, a local community newspaper South Asian Times reported that an Indian student, Ashish Sood, studying at the Carrik Institute here was badly beaten by a group of 15 youngsters on Saturday midnight at the chappel Street.

Sood, 28, along with three others were attacked by the group who started teasing and bullying them for nothing and then pounced on them, it said.

Ashish was hit by a suspected metal object and the police was called, the news report said, according to family sources. Ashish was admitted to Alferd Hospital with injuries and later discharged.

In an apparent damage control exercise, Rudd said Indian students in Australia are “welcome guests” in his country.

“I said to Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh that the more than 90,000 Indian students in Australia are welcome guests in our country,” Rudd told the Parliament.

“I speak on behalf of all Australians when I say that we deplore and condemn these attacks,” he said.

In a fresh case, a taxi driver from Hyderabad was bashed up and punched by a passenger, who was in an inebriated state. The 35-year-old driver was assaulted after he expressed inability to take him further due to a technical problem in his vehicle.

The victim, who went unconscious after the attack on Sunday, was taken to the hospital by the police, who also took hold of the attacker, a family member said.

The victim, however, said he did not think it was a racially motivated attack but an “opportunistic crime”.

Describing the attacks as “profoundly un-Australian,” opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull said: “These students are guests in our country and this recent violent behaviour has the potential to do great damage to the reputation of Australia as a destination of choice”.

‘India in touch with Aussie govt’

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Monday said  India was in touch with the Australian government  over the racist attacks on Indians, reports DHNS from New Delhi. “The Prime Minister has spoken to the Australian Prime Minister. I have spoken to the Australian Foreign Minister and our Mission in Canberra is in touch with the Indian students,” he said.

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