As India issued a travel advisory for Australia following unbated assaults and killing of its citizens, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard insisted that her country is safe for all international students and said "acts of violence" occur in big cities around the world.
She said the travel warning was a matter for the Indian government and that Australia will continue to welcome students from that country. Gillard insisted that Australia was a safe country for all international students.
"In big cities around the world we do see acts of violence from time to time; that happens in Melbourne, it happens in Mumbai, it happens in New York, it happens in London," she was quoted as saying by ABC news.
"Any individual act of violence is obviously to be deeply regretted and our sympathies go to anyone who is harmed by an act of violence" the minister said.
India on Tuesday issued an advisory asking its citizens studying or planning to study in Australia to take certain basic precautions to ensure their safety.
Pointing to several incidents of assault on Indians in Australia and particularly in Melbourne, including the killing of 21-year-old student Nitin Garg on January 2, the advisory said students should be alert about their own security while moving around.
The Acting Premier of Victoria Rob Hulls also maintained that the state is a friendly place to study. "Whilst warnings are entirely a matter for the Indian government, everyone needs to realise that Melbourne is a welcoming, open place that certainly welcomes Indian students and students from all around the world," he said.
He also called on the Indian government to show restraint in its response to the killing. "People should just show some restraint and allow the police to get on with the job of investigating this callous crime," he said.
Days after Garg was stabbed to death here, Australian police on Tuesday said that a partially-charred body of another youth from India was found in New South Wales.
Amid outrage in India, Australian acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean yesterday said there was no evidence to suggest that the attack on Garg was racially motivated and asked New Delhi not to whip up "hysteria" over such incidents.
"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 said.
Asked about comments by his Indian counterpart S M Krishna, who urged Australia to respond to the "uncivilised brutal attack on innocent Indians", Crean said he hoped "wiser heads will prevail".
Meanwhile, Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also said the attacks did not appear to be racist.
"I think it is a human tendency to see sinister aspects of things. Obviously there's something horrible about any murder but I don't think we should readily conclude just because the victim is of a particular ethnic group that there is racism unless there is some fairly strong evidence."