The following CCTV footage has outraged Australia's Indian community, which in the past few years has fallen victim to a record number of brutal attacks.
Melbourne, 9 May 2009. The victim: 21-year-old Sourabh Sharma.
According to the police, just under 1,500 Indians were attacked in Victoria State alone in the twelve months to July 2008. On Saturday yet another student was assaulted, this one stabbed in the neck with a screwdriver. It was an attack that drove the Indian community to take action, with thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets of Melbourne on Sunday. Tensions were further aggravated after a police intervention was lambasted by the Indian press.
This footage, broadcast by several Indian channels and websites, sparked protests in the country, where demonstrators insist that the attacks are racially motivated. The authorities in Australia however deny the charges, saying that most attackers target Indians because they often travel alone late at night due to unusual shifts and are known to carry expensive electrical equipment with them.
Another violent attack on Tuesday, however, has added weight to the demonstrator's argument, and increased worries for the authorities, who are well aware that the country's 93,000 Indian students bring in an enormous amount of revenue each year.
“It’s just a matter of sheer bad luck that only Indians are being targeted”
Preeti Oberoi is completing her master's degree in teaching in Melbourne. She's been living in Australia for around 18 months. She lives in north-central Melbourne.
People are only talking about this because it's all over the press and the Internet. Personally I've never had any problems except for one of my training teachers laughing at my accent. I do think Indian students are very easy targets but like the police said that's because they're often travelling alone and with MP3 players of laptops. I really believe the motive behind these attacks is usually money. Australia is a culturally diverse and welcoming country which respects its diversity. It's just a matter of sheer bad luck that only Indians are being targeted."
“The authorities are contradicting themselves”
Amit Menghani, 22, is an engineering student in Melbourne. He's been in Australia for four and a half years. He currently lives in the Reservoir suburb of northern Melbourne. He's president of the Federation of Indian Students of Australia, which organised Saturday's demonstration.
One thing I'd like to make clear, is that our rally, which was peaceful, finished in the afternoon. What happened later, and the people who were arrested by the police, were nothing to do with us.
What's clear to us, is that the authorities are contradicting themselves. First, they say we're just unlucky, but then tell us not to speak loudly in Indian languages, which suggests that we're being specifically targeted. Then they make up the excuse that the Indian community is targeted for their belongings, but we all know that other people carry just the same things as we do. Finally, while the police say that there were no racial elements in the Sourabh Sharma case, the Australian prime minister then made a speech about racial attacks and included Sharma's assault!
If the police had only done something about this when it started to become a problem a few years ago, then things would have got better, not worse. Instead, the media kept quiet about it and nothing was done. It's only thanks to foreign media that attention has been brought to this situation."