Australia punishes perpetrators of attacks against Indians

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New Delhi, Jan.15 (ANI): Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese today said Australian authorities were determined to find and take action against those involved in attacks against Indian nationals in Australia.

A total of 34 people have been arrested so far in conjunction with cases involving Indians in Victoria alone.

Some cases have already been finalised by the courts, leading to stiff sentences. For example, three men found guilty of attacking Indian-born doctor Mukesh Haikerwal were sentenced to eighteen and a half, sixteen and a half and nine years in jail respectively in November 2009.

Varghese reaffirmed the importance of allowing police investigations to run their course. "It is important not to jump to conclusions about the motives of an attack, or to take initial media reports as fact" he said.

Varghese said, claims that the burnt body of Ranjodh Singh found in Griffith on 29 December 2009, was a racial attack should be treated with caution. The two persons detained by NSW police in relation to this appalling incident were in fact Indian nationals."

"Similarly, it is far from certain that the reported burning of Jaspreet Singh in Melbourne on 9 January was an attack", added Mr Varghese.

"In all these cases, it is important to let the investigation establish the facts and then allow the criminal justice system to reach a view on the motives and the appropriate punishment", he said.

On 15 January, an Australian court sentenced a man who had that day attacked an Indian taxi driver in Ballarat, Victoria, to three months in jail.

"The speedy justice provided in this case shows the Australian government's seriousness in ensuring that high levels of safety and security for all are maintained", Mr Varghese said. "The verdict has come out within 24 hours of the incident that took place in Ballarat."

In sentencing the offender to an immediate three-month jail term, Magistrate Michelle Hodgson said she must consider "general deterrence."

"Regardless of race, violence toward people in vulnerable positions, performing valuable services to the community, valuable jobs like driving taxis or working in 7/11s, violence toward these people will not be tolerated", the Magistrate said.

Offender Arrested in Regard to Coogee Beach Incident Police acted quickly to arrest a man in conjunction with an assault on an Australian permanent resident of Indian origin at Coogee Beach on 11 January.

The same day the incident occurred a 19 year old man was arrested and charged with assault. The offender will reappear in court on 24 February.

Police investigations into the death of Nitin Garg in Melbourne on 2 January are continuing. The Victorian Police are treating the case as a matter of highest priority and have asked any witnesses to come forward. The Australian Government has offered its condolences to the Garg family, and a representative of the Australian High Commission attended Nitin Garg's funeral in Punjab.

Investigations are also continuing into a fire at a Gurudwara in Melbourne on 13 January, with police making all efforts to identify the culprits. (ANI)

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