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Updated: January 9, 2010 19:21 IST

India demands urgent action by Australia

PTI
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S.M. Krishna advised parents to be “discreet” and better informed about the courses and universities in Australia
The Hindu S.M. Krishna advised parents to be “discreet” and better informed about the courses and universities in Australia

Toughening its stand, India demanded "urgent action" by Australia to put an end to the attacks on Indians there, brushing aside attempts to downplay the incidents by Australian government.

In a firm statement, the Foreign Office said while there was a need for calm and balance in both the countries, Australian government must "take remedial measures to ensure there are no further incidents of this nature."

Concerned over the series of attacks on students as well as other members of the Indian community over the past few years, especially over increasing number of incidents of assaults since May 2009, it said "the most recent incidents resulting in the tragic deaths of Indian citizens only underline the need for addressing these concerns at the earliest.

".....It is a matter of concern that in spite of serious and concerted efforts by the Australian government to deal with this issue to address our concerns, these attacks are continuing, and have even resulted in fatalities," the statement said.

Earlier, dismissing Australia's suggestions that Indian reaction on the issue of attacks was "hysterical", External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said "none of us need to be hysterical but all that we expect is that Indians, whether they are students or otherwise, should be safe in the countries where they go for pursuing their higher studies."

Describing as majority of incidents of assaults as "opportunistic urban crimes", Australian government had on Wednesday said these crimes could happen anywhere and they were making efforts to check the same.

The Ministry said the issue has been taken up at the highest levels during the visits of dignitaries from Australia and visits by "our dignitaries to Australia, particularly over the last six months.

"External Affairs Minister personally reiterated our serious concern to the Australian High Commissioner today and emphasized the need for prompt remedial action," the MEA statement said.

"The Australian government has also been formally requested for complete statistics regarding the number of attacks as also the statistical break-down," it said.

India hopes that the series of measures already promised by Australian authorities for better policing and surveillance in crime-prone areas is strengthened and kept in place "until such time as the attacks cease and the Indian community in Australia is reassured about its safety and security," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Verghese, who met Mr. Krishna on the sidelines of a function here, admitted there was a drop in applications of Indian students seeking to study in that country following media coverage of attacks on them.

According to reports, there are nearly 100,000 students in Australia and the number of application this year has seen a drastic drop in wake of these attacks.

Giving details of the Indian High Commissioner's meeting with the authorities in Melbourne, the statement said the importance of addressing the concerns raised by these attacks and the need for prompt and speedy action in finding and charging the perpetrators and ascertaining the reasons behind the attacks has been conveyed to them.

Meanwhile, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said, "The Australian authorities have assured us that they are taking a series of steps to check attacks on Indian students. We hope that the action taken by them are as per their commitment".

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