The police are denying that a deliberate decision was taken to minimise publicity over the brutal assault on four Indians at the weekend in this Australian city.
The Indians were attacked by a group outside a bar in Epping on Saturday and the attackers told the victims "You Indians, just go back to your country". Acting Senior Sergeant Glenn Parker, who was one of the officers at the scene, says police acted swiftly, arresting four men and taking statements from the four victims.
He says there was no attempt on the part of police to play down the incident. "It wasn't raised as an issue at that time, there has been no delay on the part of Victorian Police," Parker was quoted as saying by ABC News on Wednesday.
"As I say it has been from the word go, it has been an investigation, I guess it has just attracted the attention of the media in the last day or two." He says there has been no attempt by police to minimise publicity about the incident.
"There's certainly no act to suppress what has taken place at all," he asserted. He says racist violence is unusual in Epping. The attack comes as Victoria's Premier John Brumby prepares to go on a mission to India to help repair Australia's reputation.
The victims say they were bashed by up to 70 people in a car park in High Street at Epping Saturday night. But the police say there were only four or five offenders, although there were another 15 people making racist comments. There have been a string of attacks on Indian students since May this year. The attacks have caused an uproar in India.
India's External Affairs Minister SM Krishna was assured by Canberra that students from India would be taken care of. The latest attack takes place after a brief lull in such incidents in which the victims maintain that the assaults were racially motivated. The brother-in-law of two of the victims, Onkar Singh, told ABC's AM programme that his relatives have suffered serious injuries.
"Sukhdip got very badly injured in that, and Gurdeep has his jaw broken, and Mukhtair's (the uncle) shoulder is broken," he was quoted as saying. "When the attack happened there was a lot of people, about 70 and they might have run away or something because they can all see the whole car park was full with them."