Indian Australian says Queensland street renaming smacks of racism

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Brisbane, Aug.13 (ANI): An Indian Australian developer has accused Queensland authorities of indulging in "clear cut racism" with regard to a move to change the name of a street from "Punjab Place" to "Oak Tree Place"

Developer Manjit Bopirai said he was responsible for the sub-division at Boronia Heights, in Logan south of Brisbane in 2005, and the street was named at his request.

Bopirai told The Courier-Mail he would fight to retain the name Punjab Place.

"It's our heritage, it's our money. We can name it whatever we like. I have never called Australia a racist country but in this instance I will," he added.

Bopirai said that he was opposed to a move by the residents of the Oak Tree Lifestyle retirement village to have the name of the street changed.

The residents have lodged a petition with the Logan City Council seeking to change the street's name to Oak Tree Place.

Bopirai, who hails from Punjab, asked: "These elderly people just want to make a noise. What's wrong with that name Punjab Place?"

"I'm a proud Punjabi. It's just a name we like and it lets everyone know we are successful people," he said.

Yesterday residents said they still wanted the street renamed Oak Tree Place, after the Oak Tree Lifestyle Village that dominates a quarter of the streetscape.

Village manager Dawn Ludlow submitted a 32-signature petition to Councillor Lynne Clarke, stating Oak Tree Place was a more suitable and prettier name for the street than Punjab Place.

"This isn't racist," said Ron Edmonds, a resident.

Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin president Umesh Chandra said the request to rename the street was devastating.

Given the controversy over attacks on Indian students in Australia, plans to remove an Indian street name would make relations worse.

"People in India would see it as a terrible slur; they are already cancelling trips to Australia over the treatment of students," Chandra said. (ANI)

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