New Delhi, Feb.3 (ANI): Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese on Wednesday said Australia is taking stern action against the miscreants involved in attacks on Indian citizens.
Varghese said Australia has zero-tolerance for any kind of violence and racism, both reflected in Australian law and in the penalties the courts were handing out.
"We have had over 50 arrests in Australia now in relation to crimes against Indian nationals. Those arrests are working their way through the court system. In some cases the courts have taken advantage of capacity to impose tougher penalties where hate or race is involved," he said in New Delhi.
In one instance, 18 years of imprisonment was awarded for a particular audacious attack, he added.
An Indian, who claimed he was set on fire in a racial attack in Australia, was actually burnt while torching his car for an insurance claim, Australian police said on Wednesday.
"The charging earlier today of the person who had claimed to have been set alight in racist attack, the charging was a false report, and with insurance...we now need to wait for a court system to consider the case but it is an example why it is important not to run with initial media reports as it turned in this case which received widespread publicity as a racist attack. The conclusion reached by the police was somewhat very different to the initial report," said Varghese.
Indian media have slammed Australia as a racist country but Indian nationals have now been charged over two of the most recent attacks.
Australian authorities cited not only the Indian man, who has been charged after burning himself in an alleged insurance scam, but also the case of Indian Ranjodh Singh. Two Indian nationals have been charged with his murder after his body was found on the side of a road last December.
On Wednesday, Australian politicians and diplomats asked for a more balanced reporting by Indian media, saying reports of racist attacks had "done serious damage to Australia's image in India".
Around 4,000 Indian students have cancelled plans to study in Australia after the attacks.
A series of attacks on Indian students in Australia over the past 18 months, which police have said are criminal rather than racially motivated, have strained ties between the two nations and damaged Australia's lucrative foreign student market. (ANI)