Sandeep Dikshit

Dossier does not include recent high profile cases

NEW DELHI: Under pressure from the Indian government, Australia has finally informed New Delhi of action taken in 18 high profile cases of assault on persons of “Indian racial appearance.”

According to a dossier submitted to the government, nearly half of those arrested so far or on the run are juvenile or under 18. As the dossier lists attacks till January 5, it does not include many recent high profile cases including the murder of a youth from Punjab, whose body has still not been sent back because of suspicion of an extortion racket by Indians who worked illegally for contractors.

Initial resistance

Canberra earlier resisted New Delhi’s demand to be informed of the cases involving Indians. It claimed that appearance was a limited indicator of ethnicity and the person could originate from about 20 countries such as Mauritius, Fiji and Malaysia.

However, during a conversation with his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith last week, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishnan, insisted on Australia giving the low-down on the action taken in cases of violence, informed sources said.

The External Affairs Ministry did not subscribe to the Australian hypothesis that appearance was a limited indicator of ethnicity and pointed out that the attacks on Indian nationals were too many to be explained away with such arguments.

Of the 18 high profile cases reported between March 2008 and January 5 this year, two persons were run over by train and no foul play was suspected. Three cases remain unsolved and 33 people have been arrested in the remaining 13 cases.

The involvement of juveniles began with the first high profile case in Melbourne in March last, when two men of Indian appearance were assaulted and robbed at a railway station.

Four of the five alleged offenders arrested by the police had to be taken to the Children’s Court as they were minors. Two months later in May, all the four who assaulted an Indian on a train also turned out to be juveniles.

Also under 18 were the two persons who the same month gatecrashed and assaulted some of those present at an Indian party when they were asked to leave.

In June last, the two who knocked a man unconscious and then robbed him were under 18.

In November, an Indian was stabbed 14 times after he offered 20 cents to two men who demanded money. One of them has been arrested and found to be a juvenile, according to the dossier prepared by the Victorian Police.

At the same time, the police admitted that they had not solved cases reported six months ago. These included the May 2009 assault and robbery by two men, and the assault on an Indian student a month later.

While giving statistics of action taken in cases of assault and robbery against people of Indian appearance, Australia has made it clear that the dossier is not a definitive account of all cases of attack against Indians. For, according to Canberra, racial appearance is based on the subjective assessment of the attending police and recorded only for “operational purposes.”

Corrections and Clarifications

The External Affairs Minister is S.M. Krishna, and not S.M. Krishnan as said in the fourth paragraph of a report "Most attackers of Indians in Australia are under 18" (January 24, 2010).