Indians should not stop going to Australia although the recent violence against Indians have affected ties between the two countries, appealed Peter Varghese, Australian High Commissioner to India.
He assured, “We’ve made legislative changes so that the police have wider powers of searching for weapons. We’re not taking things lightly.”
Denying that all the incidents were racist in nature, he said, “A vast majority of these crimes are urban opportunistic crimes, but some unfortunately seem to be race crimes. One person, found guilty by the court, was sent to 18 years imprisonment.”
Varghese, who was on his first visit to Kolkata on Tuesday to inaugurate the first Australia India Heritage Week, pointed out, “Policing resources have been increased in Victoria, where most of the attacks took place.”
Varghese’s statement, however, contradicted Australia’s acting foreign minister Simon Crean’s views that there was no evidence to prove the attacks were racially motivated.
He told the media on January 5 that these crimes could have occurred anywhere in the world and they also happened in “Delhi and in Mumbai” too.
In June 2009, Victoria police data showed that 1,447 people of Indian origin were victims of crime, such as robberies and assaults, between June 2008 and July 2009 in Victoria state alone compared to 1,082 such cases previous year.
Indian students number 119,000 in Australia and make up 19 per cent of foreign enrolments in universities and colleges, which target Indian students.