Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday warned Indian students not to take the law into their own hands after a second night of rowdy protests against alleged racial violence.
Rudd backed a new crackdown on race attacks in Victoria state, the centre of recent tensions, but said the students needed to “draw some breath” and calm down.
“I fully support hardline measures in response to any act of violence towards any student anywhere -- Indian or otherwise,” Rudd told commercial radio.
“And furthermore we also need to render as completely unacceptable people taking the law into their own hands.
“Everyone needs just to draw some breath on this and we need to see a greater atmosphere of general calm.”
About 70 students gathered in Sydney’s west for the second consecutive evening on Tuesday, brandishing the Indian flag and chanting “Australian police, bullshit.”
Two people were arrested at the rally, which followed a bigger protest on Monday during which Indian students attacked a carload of Lebanese men apparently in retaliation for an earlier assault.
Meanwhile, Victoria premier John Brumby announced a race-crime blitz focusing on Melbourne’s train stations, where Indian students have increasingly been the target of robberies and assaults.
Uniformed police, dog-handlers and mounted officers will patrol the stations, backed up by the force’s air wing, after a wave of attacks that prompted angry protests in the city and strained Canberra’s diplomatic ties with New Delhi.
“We are cracking down on this. We are moving in additional resources and this will involve some hundreds of police,” Brumby said.
“It will be a high-profile exercise. I would hope it sends a message also to India and the Indian government that we value the Indian community here in our state.”
One student is fighting for his life in Melbourne after a screwdriver attack that prompted earlier protests and headlines such as “Australia, land of racists” in the Indian media.
Activists say there have been about 70 attacks on Indian students in Melbourne this year. Some 95,000 Indians are studying in Australia after a university publicity blitz targeting the huge Asian country’s growing middle class.