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Safety Of Indians Is Prime Responsibility Of Aus Govt, Says India

PTI 11 Jan 2010, 21:17:45 IST

In a strong message, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi on Monday  asked Australia to take "all possible steps" to contain assaults on Indians there, saying it was their "primary responsibility". 

Ravi said Australia will have to convince the Indian government and the people of this country about steps taken to protect Indian citizens. 

"Australia needs to take all possible steps to ensure security of our citizens. They need to convince not only the government but also the people of the country about steps taken to ensure safety of our citizens," Ravi told PTI. 

Expressing serious concern about the recent attacks, including killing of 21-year-old student Nitin Garg a week ago, Ravi said "for India, every life of its citizen is precious". 

"We need preventive steps. Why cannot they identify the anti-social elements responsible for the assaults and arrest them. Police know these elements," he said. "We want them to take certain strong action. I am not saying they are not taking action. But they need to take strong action," Ravi added. 

Wondering why the Australian government has not been able to contain the attacks, the Minister said "it is their primary obligation to ensure safety of the foreigners. We take all the care to protect foreign nationals here". 

"This is not the first time these incidents are taking place. These attacks are taking place for the last one year. What they are doing to contain them," he asked. 

Ravi said some of the attacks have had "racial overtones", adding, the government was putting pressure on Australia to ensure safety of Indians. 

"In spite of all the assurances by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his ministerial colleagues, attacks are taking place. We are really concerned," he added.

Meanwile, Simon Overland, Victoria's Police Chief Commissioner, said Indians were far more safer in Australia than in their own country.  "Look at the data. Indians are safer in this country than they are in their own country," Overland told a group of reporters. 

His comments came as the 21-year old Indian migrant Nitin Garg, who was stabbed here last week, was cremated in his home town near Ludhiana.  

Meanwhile, acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean also said he does not believe that racism is on the rise in Australia.  Crean said Australia is a tolerant and anti-racist society, but there is no guarantee everyone subscribes to those values. 

Crean said in the most recent cases, he does not believe race was an issue.  29-year-old Jaspreet Singh was set on fire by a group of four assailants here last week in the latest attack on Indians in Australia. 

"It's not only the Victorian police saying that there is no evidence in either case that the attacks, the murder and then the subsequent attack were racially based," the acting Foreign Minister said. 

"I think it's also important in terms of the most recent incident, that a relative of Mr Singh, the victim of the recent attack, also doesn't believe it was racially based," Crean said. 

In Delhi, Congress  took a dig at Simon Overland's claim  that the country is safe for Indians, saying his definition on safety needs to be reconsidered. 

"His definition of safety needs to be reconsidered," party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.

Singhvi said Indians in Australia or Australians in India would not feel safe if such incidents (of violence) continue asserting that the Australian government was duty bound to protect those living there. 

To a query about the reported advice of the MEA to the media to observe restraint while reporting such incidents, Singhvi said this had to be seen in the context of not sensationalising it. 

"When an incident happens, we have a right to comment and analyse it," he said. PTI