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Five teenagers held for attacks on Indian students in Australia

Five teenagers have been charged for two separate attacks on Indian students in this Australian city, as an official held the assaults were not racially motivated.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Melbourne
UPDATED ON MAY 29, 2009 04:42 PM IST

Five teenagers have been charged for two separate attacks on Indian students in this Australian city, as an official held the assaults were not racially motivated.

One teenager was charged with attempted murder over the attack with a screwdriver on 25-year-old Sravan Kumar Theerthala who is battling for his life, while four others were charged with brutally beating up Sourabh Sharma, 21, on a train.

"A 17-year-old male from Glenroy was charged with attempted murder after four Indian students were attacked with a screwdriver by gatecrashers at a party in Hadfield, in Melbourne's north, on Saturday night. One of the victims remains in intensive care in hospital," The Age reported Friday.

An 18-year-old man from Heidelberg West was questioned in relation to the attack but has since been released.

The police have also charged four minors from Melbourne's west over the brutal bashing of Sharma who was going home on a Werribee line train after a shift at KFC, the report said.

The teenagers have been charged with offences including affray, intentionally causing injury, recklessly causing injury and robbery.

However, Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said there was no indication that a rise in assaults and robberies against Indian students in Melbourne's west was due to "race hate".

He said there was a perception that Indian people were weak prey for criminals.

"I don't think they are (racist crimes) in general ... more opportunistic activity.

"We think they are vulnerable, we don't think it's racial, we think they are a weak target," Walshe told The Herald Sun.

Walshe said a taskforce was working with representatives of Melbourne's Indian community to catch those responsible for the attacks.

Three attacks on Indian students have taken place in quick succession, with the first incident being reported May 9 while the most recent took place Monday.

Theerthala, who was assaulted Sunday in Melbourne along with three other students, is battling for his life in intensive care unit in The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Theerthala, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, went to Melbourne to study two years ago.

The attackers allegedly hurled racist abuses at Indian students and hit them with a screwdriver.

Another Indian student Baljinder Singh was robbed and stabbed in Melbourne Monday.

Singh had left a railway station when two men carrying weapons approached him and demanded money. As he searched through his bag to hand over his wallet he was stabbed in the abdomen, Herald Sun reported.

He said: "They just laughed when they stabbed me in the stomach. They laughed at me...I was screaming 'don't kill me, don't kill me'." He was released from hospital Friday.

Australian police Thursday arrested two teenagers over the beating of yet another Indian student on a Melbourne train.

Sourabh Sharma, was beaten by a group of young men as he travelled on a train May 9.

Sharma suffered a fractured cheek bone and a broken tooth in the attack, which was captured on closed circuit television cameras.

He said he was also racially abused and robbed during the attack.

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