Oz phone help line for Indians goes unanswered, students fearful after Garg's murder

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Melbourne, Jan 5 (ANI): Indian students in Australia are living in constant fear after accounting graduate Nitin Garg was stabbed to death in West Footscray, and to add to the problems the phone calls to the official help line for Indian students are going unanswered.

The phone service was set up in May 2009 amid mounting alarm over violent racist attacks in Melbourne's western suburbs.

The help line is featured on the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria (FIAV) website, and was launched by Victoria Police in May 2009, as an initiative of the Indian Western Reference Group. The contact number for the FIAV was also not operational today.

President of the Federation of Indian Students in Australia, Amit Menghani, said the official help line number had recently been diverting to a message that lists another number for urgent calls, The Age reports.

He said Indian students were fearful, confused and undergoing "psychological stress" after the murder of Garg, who was fatally stabbed as he walked through Cruickshank Park on his way to work on Saturday night.

"They don't know whether to stay home or go to school, stay home from work ... they are very worried," Menghani said on Tuesday.

"They are asking themselves 'Why are we paying so much money if we can't get our children looked after? Are we paying for dead bodies? Are we paying for people who are not doing anything ...(about the violence)," he said.

Menghani said the police had not accepted the extent of the problem of violence against Indian students.

He said higher officials in the police and governments were very reluctant to deal with his group. "It is a small issue for them, but it isn't for Indian students."

Violent crimes against people in the western suburbs increased sharply in the past decade. Official figures showed that from 2000-2001 to 2007-2008 such offences in Melton increased by 101 percent. There was an increase of 51 per cent over the same period in Brimbank, 43.5 per cent in Wyndham and 15.2 per cent in Hobsons Bay. (ANI)

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