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On day cabbie is assaulted, Australia PM flays attacks

world Updated: Jun 02, 2009 01:36 IST
Dheepthi Namasivayam
Dheepthi Namasivayam
Hindustan Times
On day cabbie is assaulted

On a day an Indian taxi driver was assaulted in Melbourne, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd assured India that perpetrators of the recent attacks on Indians in Australia would be met “with full force of the law.”

Speaking in the Australian parliament on Monday, Rudd called the incidents deplorable.

Rudd recalled his phone conversation with PM Manmohan Singh during which they discussed “recent unfortunate events” that threaten to “impair” good bilateral relations.

“These are senseless acts of violence... I speak on behalf of all Australians when I say that we deplore and condemn these attacks,” Rudd said.

A day after hundreds staged a protest against the attacks, the head of the Victorian police unit expressed concern over growing violence.

Detective Sergeant Michael Grumley, who dealt with the stabbing of Baljinder Singh in southwest Melbourne last week, told HT that many of the attacks were committed by “opportunists” and habitual offenders.

He denied that the attacks are racially motivated. “These are attacks on individuals late at night on trains, for example. It doesn’t matter what nationality you are, it’s the circumstance you are in.”

Shabbir Wahid, former Australian Consulate-General and Trade Commissioner to India, believes the perpetrators “find strength in numbers” while loafing around stations and pubs.

Amid hectic diplomatic efforts, the Indian government on Monday hoped the attacks on students in Australia would come to an end.

“The PM has spoken to the Australian Prime Minister (Kevin Rudd). I’ve spoken to the Foreign Affairs Minister (of Australia) and our Mission (in Canberra) is in touch with the students from India and also the government of Australia. So,

I hope things will be sorted out,” External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said in New Delhi.
Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vyalar Ravi welcomed Rudd’s statement. “We appreciate what PM Rudd has said. We hope that the Australian federal government would put pressure on the provincial government of Victoria to punish those guilty.”