Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur on Friday reiterated the government’s advice to students going abroad to exercise due diligence, even as Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese called on the Indian media to set the record straight after it emerged that all the three accused of murdering Ranjodh Singh in New South Wales (NSW) were Indians.
Ms. Kaur, who accompanied family members of Ranjodh Singh to the airport here to receive the body, termed the attacks on Indians unfortunate. “The Indian government will do whatever is required,” she told journalists. But after it emerged that all the accused in the Ranjodh Singh case were Indians, the Ministry of External Affairs put out a release in which Ms. Kaur was quoted as advising all prospective students to Australia to “carefully apprise themselves of the ground realities including suitability of the institution in question, costs involved and consular procedures.”
In a statement, Mr. Varghese, “welcomed advice” that the NSW police had arrested three persons in connection with the murder of 25-year-old Ranjodh Singh, whose burnt body was found in Griffith on December 29, a couple of days after he was killed. Gurpreet Singh, 23, his 20-year-old wife Harpreet Bhullar and another Indian have been charged with the murder.
Mr. Varghese said the arrests underlined the importance of allowing investigations to run their course and not jumping to conclusions based on initial reports. The identity of those arrested, who he underlined were Indians, as well as the conclusions reached by the investigation, “clearly” showed that racism had not been a factor. Mr. Varghese said this case was widely reported as a racist attack and he expressed the hope that Indian media which carried such reports would now set the record straight.
He reiterated Australia’s commitment to bring to swift justice the perpetrators of attacks against Indian nationals. He stressed that Australia’s police forces and courts would continue to come down hard on all instances of violence.
Providing an update on police action, the High Commissioner said more than 50 people were arrested so far in connection with the cases involving Indian nationals. Three murders of Indian nationals, including Ranjodh Singh, had occurred since late December 2009. On January 6, Chamanjot Singh, faced court on the charge of killing his wife Manpreet Kaur at their home in Sydney on December 29.
However, the police were unable to make any breakthrough in the case of the death of Nitin Garg in Melbourne on January 2. The police held a re-enactment of his final walk on January 23 in an effort to prompt information from the public. The Victorian police were treating the case as a matter of the highest priority and asked any witnesses to come forward, said Mr. Varghese.