Concerned over the series of attacks on its nationals, India on Wednesday sought “credible answers” from Australia so that it could send a clear message to worried parents of more than 1,20,000 students in this country. “It is important to understand that there is anger and frustration in India over what is happening [in Australia],” High Commissioner Sujatha Singh wrote in an article published in The Age newspaper here.
She said the anxious parents were asking for clear answers to certain questions. “Are our children safe in Australia? Why does it seem that only, or mainly, Indians are the victims? Are the assailants being caught? Are they being punished? Is the situation becoming better or worse?
“I cannot overstate the importance of keeping the human element in the forefront in providing credible answers to these questions and sending a clear message to parents far away in India, worrying about their children in Australia,” Ms. Singh wrote ahead of her visit to India to brief the government on the steps taken by Australia to address its concerns.
Over 100 cases of attacks on Indians have been reported since last year — mostly in Victoria — and the issue has been taken up by top Indian officials with their Australian counterparts.
“The assaults on Indian students and members of the larger Indian community over the past few months have puzzled us all... The fundamental issue is the growing number of attacks, which seem to be disproportionately affecting Indians, especially in and around Melbourne,” Ms. Singh said.
“We are told that one of the reasons our students are being attacked in Melbourne is that they take public transport late at night. In this case, it should then apply to Indian students all across Australia,” she said, adding students in other cities, however, did not seem to face these incidents on the same scale.
“I have been called to India for consultations, in the run-up to the upcoming Parliament session, beginning February 22.”
Ms. Singh said India recognised the several measures taken by Australia to address the various issues, many of them complex and interrelated.
But: “It is important to go beyond rhetoric. We have to make the situation better. It is necessary to see the results on the ground.”
Australia on Tuesday acknowledged that some of the recent violence was clearly “racially motivated” and vowed to “punish the culprits with the full force of law.”
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told Parliament: “If any of these attacks have been racist in nature — and it seems clear that some of them have — they [the perpetrators] will be punished with the full force of law.”