Australian high commissioner to India Peter Varghese on Wednesday admitted that the number of attacks on Indians had gone up in recent months, but there was no decrease in policing resources aimed at containing them.
The attacks were mostly “opportunistic urban crime”, he added.
The envoy’s comments came after Australia’s acting foreign minister Simon Crean asked India not to whip up “hysteria” over a young expatriate’s murder, saying such incidents occur everywhere, including in Mumbai, London and New York.
Crean claimed Australia was “safe” for foreign students after India warned its citizens to be cautious in that country.
There was no evidence to suggest that the attack on 21-year-old Nitin Garg, a student who was fatally stabbed in the abdomen on Sunday, was racially motivated, Crean said, adding it was one of a spate of stabbings in Melbourne over the Christmas period.
“It so happens that one of the victims is Indian... Melbourne is not the only city in the world where this happens. It also happens in Delhi and in Mumbai,” Crean was quoted as saying by The Age.
High commissioner Verghese termed New Delhi’s reaction to the death of Nitin Garg as measured and understandable but maintained that Australia has no issues with the advisory.
“I don’t think it is a case that the attacks are directed only against Indians. I do not deny that there could be a racist element to a minority of cases but a majority of these cases are opportunistic urban crime,” he said at a press conference.
He was asked how the attacks against Indians could continue unabated if they were not racist.
Verghese said the “real conclusion” on reasons that led to Garg’s death should be arrived at only after the “evidence are in place”.
“We are investigating the case. We don’t know who did it, then comes the question of why he did it?” said the envoy.
Asked why the attacks were continuing despite measures Australia had put in place, he said the measures were aimed “at addressing the problem” and Australia or any country cannot stop crime altogether.
He also said the number of Indian students studying in Australia had gone up many times.