Attacks Prompt Indian Advisory to Students in Australia

The Government of India on Tuesday issued an advisory asking Indians studying in Australia and those planning to do so to exercise caution while moving around in that country, the recommendations came three days after an Indian student was fatally stabbed in a Melbourne park.

The advisory coincides with efforts by Australian authorities to identify a partially burnt body of a 25 year old youth found by a roadside in New South Wales on December 29. Media reports citing investigators said the corpse was believed to be that of an Indian.

Three days ago a 21-year-old youth Nitin Garg was stabbed in West Footscray area of Melbourne. He later succumbed to the wounds at a medical center in the city.

Garg’s death, the first fatality from a string of attacks on Indians that started last year, drew a sharp reaction from India with Minister for External Affairs, SM Krishna, refusing to “pre-judge” the attack as a race-related crime sought to remind Canberra of the economic benefits that Indian students brought to Australia.

Recording a huge surge, 100 cases of attacks against Indians were registered in 2009, a manifold increase over the 17 similar incidents reported during the previous year.

While a majority of Indians believe the violence to be racially motivated, Canberra has maintained that Australia is a safe destination for Indians, especially those enrolling at its various universities.

Contentions aside, the number of Indians seeking admission to Australian universities reflects a sharp decline due to the violence, which according to an Indian student association has caused great psychological stress to the expats.

The advisory issued Tuesday urges Indians to:

Check travel routes carefully and stick to well-lit, populated areas.

Ensure someone knows where you are going and the time you’d be back, don’t flash expensive mobiles, ipods and laptops.

Carry identification cards and details of people to be contacted in case of an emergency.

If in danger, dial 000 to get police help.

If in trouble, contact the officer responsible for student welfare at the high commission or the nearest consulate.

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