Assaults on Indian students a problem: Australian minister

Updated on May 31, 2009 12:35 PM IST

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has termed the attacks on Indian students a "problem" and assured that the government would do everything to prevent further assaults.

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IANS | By, Melbourne

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has termed the attacks on Indian students a "problem" and assured that the government would do everything to prevent further assaults.

"We have a particular current problem with Indian students," Smith told Network Ten.

"We're doing everything that we can, both with the Indian community in Australia and India itself ... but also working very closely with the relevant state authorities," he said.

Smith's comments came amid outrage and concern in India at the wave of allegedly racist attacks on Indian students, the Sydney Herald reported.

The issue has been discussed at the diplomatic level with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking to his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd and urging him to take all possible steps to ensure the security of Indians in Australia.

The Australian government has assured India that a slew of steps, including increased patrolling and setting up of a hotline, have been taken to ensure the safety of over 80,000 Indian students in the country.

Smith said Australia was trying to bring the attackers to justice and ensure a safe environment for all international students.

"Australia generally has low crime and violence rates," he said.

Four attacks have taken place on Indian students. While a petrol bomb was thrown at an Indian student in Sydney last Sunday, three attacks took place in Melbourne.

One student, Sravan Kumar Theerthala, who was attacked in Melbourne last Sunday with a screwdriver, is battling for life at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Another student Baljinder Singh was stabbed outside a railway station. He is recuperating at home. A third student, Sourabh Sharma, was viciously assaulted in a train on May 9.

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