Community leaders in Oz ask students to stop rallies

Community leaders in Oz ask students to stop rallies

Indian students last night took to the streets of Harris Park in Sydney for the third consecutive night to protest at what they claim are racially motivated attacks.

Yadu Singh, coordinator of the Indian Consul General's community committee on Indian students' issues, said an urgent meeting in Pennant Hills had ended with calls for an end to the protests.

Attended by the community leaders and students, Singh said, in the meeting all had agreed that there was no need for continued rallies.

"One thing is clear - the rallies have served their purpose and we don't want any more rallies in Harris Park, that is the community's view," Singh said, adding "They are disrupting the normal life of the people in the suburbs."

Singh said students present at the meeting had agreed to pass on the request to other protesters.

Despite students' claims that the attacks are racially motivated, Australian authorities have repeatedly said Indians are not the target of hate crimes, according to media reports.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday warned Indian students against "vigilante action", saying while violence in all Australian cities was "a regrettable part" of urban life, vigilante action was equally unwelcome.

Superintendent Robert Redfern yesterday expressed sympathy for the students' concerns, but urged them not to take matters into their own hands.

"I am not a fan of vigilante groups. I am not a fan of people taking the law into their own hands. That's our job," Redfern said.

"The victims of crime that do occur in this area are not exclusively Indian, the perpetrators of those crimes are not exclusively Middle Eastern," he said.

Redfern said he planned to meet with Sydney's Indian community leaders later this week.

NSW Premier Nathan Rees said a meeting with Indian leaders last week emphasised the need for everyone to keep a cool head and report any incidents to police immediately.

"Police have escalated their presence and their monitoring of the situation in that part of Sydney, but everyone is to keep calm," he said yesterday.

"There is no place for violence, there is no place for this sort of antisocial behaviour in NSW or Australia."

"What I would say is there are mechanisms in place now for appropriate dialogue to occur," he said, adding "we'll be in ongoing discussions with the student leaders and community leaders."

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