India will not take attack on its students in Australia lightly: Krishna

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New Delhi, Feb.25 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Thursday said India will not take attack on its students in Australia lightly.

"Let there be no doubt that we take the incidents of assault on our students very seriously indeed. I would like to assure you that the Australian authorities have been fully apprised of the gravity of the situation. As a result, both at the state as well as the federal level, they have taken several measures to improve security and surveillance," Krishna said in a suo moto statement in Parliament.

"It can be honestly said that they (Australia) are making efforts to meet our concerns. However, as can be seen, the issue consists of several complex factors, all of which are interlinked and need to be dealt with in a concerted and coordinated manner," Krishna added.

Assuring the House that the government will continue to monitor the situation closely and work closely with the Australian authorities to deal with the issues concerned and improve the safety and security of our students in Australia, Krishna said: "The attacks on Indian students have been coming to our notice for over two years now, since 2007 when some students were assaulted in Sydney. In 2008 and 2009 also, there were other sporadic instances of assaults on Indian students, including some working as taxi drivers in Melbourne and in Adelaide."

He further said that since May 2009, there seems to have been a significant increase in the number and frequency of attacks on Indians in Australia. This has coincided with the substantial increase in the number of Indian students studying in Australia over the last three years, with a 141% increase recorded in just two years from 2006 to 2008.

He said each assault was taken up with the Australian authorities, at the state level by the Consulates General and at the state and federal levels by the High Commission of India.

He said The profile of the attackers in most of these assaults was that of youngsters in their teens and early 20s, largely under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

They were of mixed ethnicity, including sometimes, other Indians. Some of the attacks have had racial elements.

He said that he had gained a first hand perspective on the issues related to the welfare and well-being of Indian students and the larger community in Australia during his visit to that country in August 2009, and every effort would be made to address their problems and grievances.

India, he said, attaches importance to its relationship with Australia and is committed to further strengthening and expanding these relations to cover virtually every area of interaction. (ANI)

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