Australian authorities today "unreservedly" condemned the killing of an Indian youth here calling his stabbing a heinous crime even as police claimed there was no evidence to suggest that it was a racial attack.

Twenty-one-year-old Nitin Garg, an accounting graduate who was originally from Punjab, died after he was stabbed yesterday in West Footscray area. He was the first to die in a slew of attacks on Indians in Australia.

"I obviously unreservedly condemn this attack," Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said. "People in Melbourne's west, people around the nation, I think they will be joining together to say we unreservedly condemn this violence."

Gillard said police should now be allowed to carry out their investigation.

"This is a nation that welcomes international students," she said. "We want to make them welcome, this is a welcoming and accepting country."

Condemning the killing of Garg, Victorian Acting Premier Rob Hulls said "the tragic death of a young Indian lad is ... abhorrent, it is a heinous crime and it is something that the police are putting all resources into investigating and finding the culprit."

Victorian police, meanwhile, denied any racism angle in the killing of the Indian youth, claiming that there was no evidence to suggest it was a racially-motivated attack.

DPA adds

Oz cricketers urged to speak out

Shane Warne and other cricket superstars were on Monday urged to condemn the latest assault of an Indian student in Australia.

The call from Gautam Gupta, spokesman for the Federation of Indian Students in Australia, followed the stabbing death on Saturday of 21-year-old accounting graduate Nitin Garg.

“There is a lot of frustration within the Indian community with the way this is being handled,” Gupta said, calling on Warne and other cricketing heroes who have made fortunes in India to break their silence on the issue.

“They should jump in and defend Indian students in Australia,” Mr. Gupta said. “Shane Warne is an icon in India. He has millions of fans.”

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