Oz police denies racial motive behind attack on Indians


Around 200 Indian students, some of them armed with baseball bats and hockey sticks, gathered at the main street of Harris Park to protest against the recent racial violence, according to Skynews TV channel.

The demonstration started last night after a 20-year- old Indian student was allegedly assaulted by a group of men of Middle Eastern appearance, police said.

According to police officer Robert Redfern, the Parramatta local area commander, the attacks were "opportunistic" and not racially motivated.

"Certainly it would appear to us that they are opportunistic and this is an area of Harris Park where there is a very large Indian community," he said.

"They are young people, often students, often working... and they are therefore at risk opportunistically of being assaulted in the early hours of the morning or very late at night," Redfern said.

Redfern said police worked closely with the Indian community and had reduced the area's crime rate.

"There is a youth student safety subcommittee that's working with the Indian Consulate, we're working with that group and we'll continue to do so," he said.

"Our ethnic community liaison officers have certainly been (giving) safety advice to these people," Redfern said.

According to TV report, protesters demanded immediate action against the perpetrators of such violence and also to organise a meet between students, police and State authorities.

The report said the community members felt that there was a fear that if the issue was not addressed immediately there could be race riots.

One of the protesters told radio channel here that the attacks were becoming more frequent and police are not doing enough to stop them.

"I never come back home at night... If I finish my work, I stay there. I know if I come back, someone (will) smash me, someone (will) take my money. I know. I'm not safe here," Ajay Kumar, a student, told radio channel.

A spokesman for the NSW Lebanese Community Council, Elie Nassif, said any individuals making trouble should be dealt with by police as a criminal matter.

However, Nassif said there has been tension in the local area between a small section of the Lebanese and Indian communities which needs to be addressed.

"Whether we like it or not it is happening, but as community leaders we should work together to wipe all this (out)," Nassif said.

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