Australia committed to bring perpetrators of attacks on Indian nationals to justice, says Smith

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New Delhi, March 3 (ANI): Australia is committed to bring all those behind the attacks on Indian students to justice and is doing everything to ensure that Indian students have a peaceful stay down under, said Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith here said in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Smith, who is on a three-day visit to India to strengthen bilateral ties, today said the authorities were investigating the attacks against Indians that have strained ties between the two nations over the past two years.

"We don't believe that Indian students have been singled out but we can't assert that which is why we asked the Criminology Institute to do that study. One thing you can be absolutely sure of -- the Australian government together with the state and territory governments and their police authorities are investigating many of these attacks. We have already made 70 arrests. We want the culprits to be brought to justice and we want all Indian students to have the same experience which the vast bulk of visitors to Australia have-which is a peaceful experience and in the education area, and a quality education experience," said Smith.

Smith also condemned assaults on Indian students in Australia particularly in Melbourne and conceded that small number of those (assaults) have had racist or racial overtones associated with it.

"There have been a number of assaults on Indian students in Australia particularly in Melbourne in the last couple of years and we have zero tolerance for that and we condemned them absolutely. It is also that case that small number of those have had racist or racial overtones associated with it. We regarded that it is condemnable and we have zero tolerance that doesn't reflect the modern, tolerant and multicultural Australia. Our police authorities don't compile statistics on the basis of someone's nationality. As a consequences it is very hard to make a statistical judgment about this. Well we have done is to ask the Institute of Criminology to conduct a detailed analysis to make sure that we have done and are doing everything possible we can," Smith said.

Australia has witnessed a series of incidents that involve local residents attacking Indians over the past two years.

India says the attacks were racist in nature whereas Australia denied the allegations and said that attacks were criminal rather than racially motivated.

Around 4,000 Indian students have cancelled their plans to study in Australia after the attacks. The foreign student market is Australia's third-largest foreign exchange earner, worth 13 billion Australian dollars (12 billion USD) in 2007-08. (ANI)

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