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Indians in Oz warned of attacks
Melbourne, Jan 23 (IANS):
Published on 23 Jan. 2010 11:46 PM IST
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Australia's state and federal governments were warned about the possibility of foreign students, including Indians, facing attacks, but they "weren't interested in listening", a group representing the nation's universities said Saturday, a day on which two people were charged with attacking an Indian in Brisbane. Universities Australia chief executive Glenn Withers told The Age he was disappointed state and federal governments did not treat the problem as a priority when they were told two years ago but acted with urgency only when violent attacks on Indian students attracted intense media attention. "We were disappointed that earlier warnings took the unfortunate development of street assaults to lead to the reforms that should have been in place already. We saw this two years ago as an issue, tried to transmit it to government and were meeting resistance," he was quoted as saying. Withers' revelation came on a day when a 20-year-old man and a teenager were charged with assault for attacking and robbing an Indian in Brisbane Thursday night. The 25-year-old victim was using a telephone box in Macgregor, in Brisbane's south, at 10.40 p.m. Thursday when he was set upon and punched to the side of the head and robbed of his wallet and cigarettes. Police have charged two people with violence while in company over the incident, Australian news agency AAP reported Saturday. Meanwhile in this city, police are trying to reconstruct the final moments of another Indian Nitin Garg, who was fatally stabbed Jan 2. Investigators plan to return to Yarraville in Melbourne's west to retrace the last steps of the 21-year-old accounting graduate before he was fatally stabbed. At about 9.30 p.m., a man dressed as Garg will walk from the Yarraville railway station and cut across Cruickshank Park along a metre-wide dirt path on the eastern side of the park to Hungry Jack's restaurant. Garg, who hailed from Punjab, was on his way to work at the restaurant when he was attacked. He staggered into the outlet with stab wounds before collapsing. He was rushed to hospital but didn't survive. There has been a string of attacks on Indians in Australia with taxi drivers being targeted in some recent incidents. Three Indian taxi drivers were attacked in different Australian cities Jan 16. While a 25-year-old Indian taxi driver was assaulted in Melbourne, two Indian taxi drivers, one of whom was a student, were attacked in Ballarat. The spate of attacks started last May, causing an uproar in India. Two of the attacks proved fatal. The assaults have strained relations between Canberra and New Delhi. Withers said his organisation wanted to work with the Coalition of Australian Governments to tackle problems in the vocational training sector that were likely to adversely impact the higher education sector but were not taken seriously. "We were told basically, 'This is not a matter for you, you are a concern of the Commonwealth and have no place at our table'. "We were warning: 'Look it's a reputational issue, it's a brand Australia issue, please let us work with you'. The states weren't interested in listening. I think they thought they could just ride this industry to their benefit without worrying about their role in any serious way." Withers said they also expressed concern over the link between international education and immigration. The federal government was so "enamoured of short-term labour market convenience (to) employers that it did not listen when we said immigration should be part of long-term national development", he said. "Permanent migration should not have been skewed for those purposes. They realised that and began to repair it, but too late," he said. The claim comes amid new figures showing a sharp fall in overseas students, particularly Indians, applying to study in Australia. Applications from India fell 46 percent and those from Nepal fell by a staggering 85 percent.

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