Prominent members of Australia’s Indian community warned students on Thursday to curb their nocturnal street protests, for fear it could impact all Indians living in Australia.
“What they’re doing in Harris Park (in Sydney’s west) is going to backfire on Australian citizens of Indian background in this country,” said Dr Yadu Singh, a Sydney cardiologist who came to Australia in 1991 and heads the Indian consul general’s Indian student safety committee.
“No, I am not concerned about my safety now but if these rallies keep going...then it will have general repercussions,” he added.
Around 50 students gathered in at Harris Park train station overnight for the third consecutive night, calling for increased police protection for Indian students, after countless attacks against them.
Dr Singh denied that Indians have been targeted in recent attacks, adding that it more of a “policing issue”.
“We have more than 2,00,000 Indians in this country and we are not suffering racism, we are not being bashed up here.”
But Arun Sharma, a restaurant owner who migrated from India 30 years ago, said he has been “personally very concerned” about his safety for several months.
“I never used to worry about anybody attacking me, now I have to look around me every time, which is something never happened before,” said Sharma, who migrated from India 30 years ago and organises Melbourne’s Diwali festival in the city-centre.
Sharma urged Indian students to refrain from retaliatory attacks, adding that: “If Indian students become aggressive, they will lose a lot of support from the Indian community.”
On Wednesday, the Victorian government announced a crackdown on drunken behaviour and the deployment of more police around troublesome areas, including train stations in Melbourne north-west where Indian student Kamal Jit was bashed last Sunday.
This followed the Victorian police commissioner’s admission that racism played a factor in “some” of the violent attacks against Indian students.