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Indian paper defends Ku Klux Klan cartoon

An Indian paper that published a cartoon likening Australian police to the Ku Klux Klan defended its decision on Friday, saying the cartoon reflected the mood in the country.

delhi Updated: Jan 08, 2010 16:53 IST

An Indian paper that published a cartoon likening Australian police to the Ku Klux Klan defended its decision on Friday, saying the cartoon reflected the mood in the country.

"We perceive the Melbourne police to be a racist organisation simply because it seems it is not acting fast enough, or seriously enough, on the attacks on Indian students," Bharat Bhushan, editor of the Mail Today newspaper, said in an emailed statement.

The cartoon appeared on Tuesday after a 21-year-old Indian student was stabbed to death over the weekend, the latest in a series of attacks on Indians in Australia that has strained relations between the two countries.

Melbourne Police and Australian authorities are investigating, but have said there is no evidence yet to suggest a racial motive.

"Why's the Melbourne police in denial mode, refusing to accept the racist nature of the attacks?" Bhushan added.

The cartoon "reflects the widespread feeling in India."

Bhushan told AFP that according to Australian police statistics, Indian students represented one in every 1,000 people in Melbourne, yet were the target of one in 20 attacks.

"Once racist attacks on Indians stop, nobody is going to call them (Australians) racist," he said in a telephone interview.

The cartoonist, R. Prasad, said he had drawn inspiration from "the injustice" stemming from Australia's refusal to accept the weekend murder as "a race attack".

He said the attitude of Australian authorities "amounted to acceptance of racism or authorising similar future crimes as mere opportunistic violence.

"How best to conceptualise this injustice than stamping the badge of authority on the worst possible image of global racism?" he said.

"The cloak of the Ku Klux Klan is a globally known and recognised cultural signifier that represents racism. It also symbolises violence in the name of race or colour."

Indian media have repeatedly accused the Australian police of not doing enough to protect foreign students who have fuelled a lucrative overseas education industry.

Canberra's reaction Friday was sharp, with Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard condemning the apparent comparison with the "Ku Klux Klan" as "deeply, deeply offensive".

The Mail is a popular tabloid set up via a joint venture between Britain's Daily Mail and the India Today media group.