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India asks Aus to prevent recurrent attacks

india Updated: Sep 16, 2009 20:33 IST

Days after the latest incident of assault on four Indians in Melbourne, India on Wednesday asked Australia to take immediate steps to prevent the recurrence of such attacks and punish the guilty.

"We are concerned at the recurring attacks on Indians in Australia," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash told reporters in New Delhi.

Two Indian nationals and two other people of Indian origin were assaulted in Melbourne on Sunday. India's high commissioner to Australia Sujatha Singh took up the latest incident of attack with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.

The Indian envoy has also written to Victoria's premier John Brumby expressing concern about the attacks.

The Indian consul general in Melbourne is in contact with authorities in Victoria including the police authorities, Prakash said.

Referring to assurances given by Australia, especially from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the spokesperson said: "It is our earnest hope that the concerned authorities would take all necessary steps towards the safety and security of Indians in that country."

"We hope that the latest incident is investigated with care and the culprits are dealt with according to the laws of the land," he said.

New Delhi also reminded Canberra to put in place all measures, including those already announced, "at the earliest to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the future".

Officials of the consulate general of India in Melbourne are also in touch with the members of the family of the victims, who have been assured all assistance by the consulate, the spokesperson said.

Four Indian men were brutally assaulted outside a bar in Epping, a suburb of Melbourne, capital of Victoria, on Sunday. The victims say they were bashed by up to 70 people in a car park in High Street at Epping.

But police say there were only four or five offenders, although there were another 15 people making racist comments.

According to the external affairs ministry, Sukhdip Singh, one of the four hurt in the attack, sustained serious injuries and is undergoing treatment. "We are informed that the police arrested four individuals who have since been released pending further investigations," the spokesperson said.

Australia had assured India when External Affairs Minister SM Krishna visited that country early August that "firm action" will be taken against those responsible for attacks on Indian students.

Canberra also stressed that inputs from the Indian community will be factored in a safety plan for international students.

Krishna's visit was followed by that of Australian Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard to New Delhi late August. Gillard assured again that the Australian government was taking all possible measures to prevent attacks on Indian students, that included enhanced patrolling and more interaction with the Indian community.

The string of racist attacks against Indians has damaged Australia's image, Brumby said on Wednesday. The premier, who is heading to India next week, said he would meet key Indian officials to discuss the issue and also meet students to encourage them to continue to come to Victoria and study.