Victorian police' 'racist emails' "unhelpful" for country's image, warns Oz diplomat

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Canberra, Oct 11 (ANI): The Australian High Commissioner to India, Peter Varghese, has warned that the racist email scandal involving Victorian police officers was "unhelpful" for the country's image and will distract from steps being taken to improve the safety of foreign students.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Varghese was summoned to the Indian Foreign Office on Saturday to convey its 'serious concern' about emails sent by Victorian police officers, showing video footage of an Indian man being electrocuted on a train, and suggesting that it could be a way to "fix" Melbourne's Indian student problem.

A number of attacks on Indian students, mostly in Melbourne, between May 2009 to January this year have raised tensions between the two countries and seriously damaged Australia's reputation in India.

"It returns the issue to the front pages in a way that is very unhelpful and it can have the effect of reviving an issue that both governments have worked very hard to manage constructively," the paper quoted Varghese, as saying. You just have to look at the media coverage over the past 24 hours to see that the sensitivity is there in the Indian media and to the extent to which that's reflecting and shaping public perceptions in India it's a just a fact of life," he added.

Top Indian diplomats told Varghese that "an entrenched bias among sections of law enforcers towards the Indian community is a matter of serious concern".

The Indian Foreign Minister, S. M. Krishna, said the police emails were "shocking" and called on authorities in Australia to do more to ensure the safety of Indians studying there.

The email scandal has raised Indian fears about the rigid attitude towards racism among Australian police.

Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi said: "If members of the police force, who are charged with protecting all citizens, are going to do this, it raises a question about what protection Indians are going to get in Australia."

Varghese, however, assured that the email scandal would not affect ties between the two nations.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd, Victorian Premier, John Brumby; and the Chief Commissioner of the Victoria Police, Simon Overland, have all condemned the email. (ANI)

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