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India Outraged by Attacks on Students in Australia

India has summoned Australia's top envoy in the country to express concern over a series of assaults on Indian students.  The incidents are raising diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

India is expressing outrage over a number of attacks on its young people studying in Australia.

Official say there have been at least four such violent incidents in the past month but the attacks began several years ago and have increased considerably in the last year.

The minister for overseas Indian affairs, Vayalar Ravi, has met with the top Australian envoy to express his concern and insist Australia do more to prevent future attacks.

Australian police say in most cases the Indian students were at the wrong place at the wrong time and were assaulted by "opportunistic" criminals.

But a number of Indian media outlets are labeling Australia a racist country contending Indians are being singled out for criminal violence.

Australia's High Commissioner (Ambassador), John McCarthy, spoke to reporters following his meeting here with the Indian government official.

"It was clear criminal activity. I have not seen the evidence that they are racist [attacks] but I wasn't there. I wouldn't discount it," he said.  "Some racism exists in Australia. It's appalling. We condemn it but we have to face up to the fact."

Australia's foreign minister, Stephen Smith, spoke on the telephone with his Indian counterpart. Following that conversation S.M. Krishna told reporters that Smith told him Australia is promising to protect the well-being of Indians studying there.

"He has assured me no such incident will happen again," said Krishna.

In one of the latest attacks, 25-year-old Sravan Kumar Theerthala, is in a coma in an Melbourne hospital. Police say he was stabbed with a screwdriver and three other students were beaten at a party by a group of locals who had not been invited. A 17-year-old male has been arrested in connection with that incident.

Another attack this week occurred in Sydney where an Indian student was badly burned after being hit with a petrol bomb.

Australian police say they have arrested four suspects in another incident, caught by surveillance cameras, in which a 21-year-old was assaulted three weeks ago on a train by a group of young men.
 
Indians compose the second-largest group of overseas students in Australia. In Melbourne alone there are 50,000 Indian students where police say nearly one third of robbery victims in the city's western suburbs are Indians.

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