Australia: Indian Homicide Reignites Racism Ruckus

The murder of an Indian man in Melbourne has reignited the debate about racism in Australia and the safety of overseas students. It has also severely strained relations between Australia and India:

INDIAN diplomats are expected to meet their Australian counterparts for crisis talks in Canberra today following the murder of an Indian migrant in Melbourne.

The murder of 21-year-old accounting graduate Nitin Garg in a Yarraville park on Saturday night was yesterday condemned by politicians in India and Australia.

Diplomatic crisis erupts after Indian student's murder

Australian bloggers’ responses show a very diverse range of views.

Gerard Henderson, Executive director of The Sydney Institute, speculates on the geopolitical undertones in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald :

The tragedy happened to coincide with a distinct cooling in the relationship between the two nations over the past couple of years. During a visit to India in late 2008 I was surprised to hear strong criticism of Kevin Rudd at the highest levels of the New Delhi administration. India's prime gripe turned on the refusal of the Rudd Government's to sell uranium to India, which overturned the intention of John Howard and his senior ministers.

Student assaults teach some harsh lessons about racism

Loon Pond, aka Dorothy Parker, takes Henderson to task:

Is it just me, or is it just grubbiness of an arcane kind to link the assault and murder of Indians in Australia to Australia's current policies in relation to the sale of uranium to India?

That's the convoluted tap dance performed by Gerard Henderson in Student assaults teach some harsh lessons about racism.

Gerard Henderson, India, uranium, street crime, and a particularly grubby column

Peter Maher blogs for Melbourne radio station 3AW. He is concerned that there is a culture of denial, whether or not the killing was racially motivated:

How anyone can say it is not race related when they do not know the circumstances of the murder as I said earlier is difficult to comprehend.

What I do know though is that this abusive, violent, murderous behaviour towards Indians in this country is far too prevalent to suggest that we do not have a problem with racism in this country.

… We are so quick to brush these racist tendencies under the carpet and provide the world with this image of us as being non-discriminatory and all-inviting.

I think it is time we took a real good look at ourselves and do something about the racism that exists in this country.

Wake up Australia! We are racist

Dave, blogging as True Blue Aussie, has little doubt about the nature of any racism:

Of course everyone in Melbourne is aware, that Footscray, which used to be an Australian suburb, is now full of Islamic Sudanese, Middle Eastern Arabs and Somalians. There is hardly an Australian to be seen in Footscray. So, welcome to the divisive multicultural, ethnically diverse, immigration hell hole where immigrants (in this case likely be be muslims) attack other immigrants and Australians are blamed. Dave

Racist immigrants will be blamed for the fatal stabbing of an Indian man

A Facebook group, 1,000,000 True Aussies Against Racism, has a very different view of what it means to be an “Australian”. Their aim is to:

Stop the vocal minority who are using Facebook and talk back radio to make this wonderful country look like REDNECK nirvana.

Andrew Bartlett, former Democrats Senator and current Greens candidate for the next Federal election, wants more action from both State and Federal leaders. Writing for Asian Correspondent he argues:

While every crime should be treated on its merits, and we should not automatically assume this latest crime was racially motivated, the history of past attacks, and arguably the slowness of Australian authorities to take the issue sufficiently seriously, means that just a single serious incident such as this has the Hindustan Times reporting that, “Indian government officials ‘will be forced’ to issue a (travel) advisory in the form of a warning to those who want to work and study Down Under, if the (Australian) authorities there did not take stern action this time.”

It is the responsibility of government and community leaders to take effective steps to assure people that (a) the issue is being treated with maximum seriousness, and (b) everything reasonable is done to ensure peoples’ safety. When there is a plausible prospect that people are being targeted because of their race, it is essential that all is done to reduce the risks to them.

Tragic murder puts spotlight back on safety of Indians in Australia

Meanwhile the safety of athletes and visitors at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October is an ongoing issue that could erupt at any time. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a High Degree of Caution as its current travel advice for India. Tit for tat coming up perhaps?

UPDATE 6 January 2010

The Times of India reports that an advisory warning has been the result:

Succumbing to popular outrage over continuing attacks on Indian students in Australia, the government on Tuesday issued an advisory warning students heading to Australia for studies and those already there.

The foreign ministry cautioned students that incidents of violence had started affecting the larger Indian community in Australia. The advisory came three days after accounting graduate Nitin Garg was knifed to death, the first fatality in the attacks. It also came on a day when Indian and Australian officials met in Canberra to search for better ways to deal with the continuing violence even as the partially burnt body of another Indian was found.

Advisory asks students to be careful in Australia


  • Steve Randall

    Everyone knows that Australia is a land of Thugs and Theives who were sent from the overflowing British prisons to an unexplored landmass called “Australia”. Go read the book “A Commonwealth of Thieves:The Improbable Birth fo Australia” …its cheap $11.17 on Amazon.
    This sounds like an act of a typical Australian targetting a hard working immigrant. I will not travel this place ever in my life and will advice my relatives & friends in U.S to not travel to this racist country ever.

    • Lili

      Australia is not more racist than other countries in the world. So, if we follow your reasoning, what about the US and what they did and do with the Afro-Americans and the Latin immigrants?
      I believe that every countries that experiences massive immigration from a specific ethnic group feels in some way threatened by it and develops some form of racism. This is of course wrong and should be eradicated. But comments like yours are just full of prejudices. By the way, they don’t even know if it was an Australian who killed him.

    • Moshe

      A Commonwealth of Thieves sounds an apt description of Australia at the moment.

      To know more of its racist attitude and self in denial, you will find this handy-

    • drumma

      QWait and see who is convicted of the murder Steve. if the person was born overseas will you define that person as a ‘typical Australian’?? And what will you say if the murderer turns out to be another ‘hard working immigrant’ or non-working immigrant? Your relatives and friends in the US might even have experienced racism in that fine country which is not without a history of such attitudes

    • Mitchell Williams

      Dear Steve,

      Are you serious? Get off your high horse, man. That comment alone was inherently racist. Look, I am aware that the first migrants to Australia were indeed sent there to form a penal colony, but that does not mean that those that live in Australia 200 years later are still “thugs and thieves.” Such logic would then dictate that the U.S, who promoted the use of slaves, and segregation against African American people many years ago is still views black people as lower class. Yo bro, in case you didn’t know… our president is black.

      As for the murder itself it is still under investigation, which proves nothing of its “racial” roots.

      I’m shocked that you would not travel to India due to your misconceptions regarding its culture. I would love to travel there. It seems like a pretty cool place to be. Oh yeah, and that book you threw down gives major historical analysis… it doesn’t delve into Australia today all that much.

      Australia is no more racist than any other country, Steve. Take a look at your own before you start bashing others.

  • Steve

    Australia is a very diverse, multicultural society. We have our problems like everywhere else. Come visit and share the positives.

  • Sunil

    Andrew Bartlett – “While every crime should be treated on its merits, ” – yes, the merits of crime. how very apropos.

  • Chandra

    The early morning (in India) cricket matches in Australia inspired a generation of Indians to travel to Australia. Australia instead of dealing with the issue continues to hector us on not ‘inflaming’ the issue. India is currently Australia’s 4th largest export market and in 10 years the Indian economy will be 3 times the size it is today and Indians and Indian tourists will make up for 15-20% of all tourist travellers. Australia should do its best to deal with this issue instead of sweeping it under the carpet. It does not matter at all whether the issue is race, it is just the incidence appears to have gone up. Either you come up with statistics that show that it is not the case or actually deal with the issue on the ground.

    • Mike

      Chandra, I’m not sure there has been any sweeping. A criminal investigation is underway. What more were you hoping for here?

      An Indian woman was killed in Sydney last week, and her Indian husband has been arrested. A fool could make the same kind of generalisation after that murder to say that Indians are murders.

      It seems to me that on the cricket field, or more generally, Indians are always quick to play the victim card.

      • Moshe

        Mike, do you lack common sense? One woman compared to over more than 200 attacks on Indians by racist Australians in the last year (actually a lot more), and you say “A fool could make the same kind of generalization”? Shame on you. It’s Australians like you who give yourselves a bad name. And you have the audacity to say “It seems to me that on the cricket field, or more generally, Indians are always quick to play the victim card.”? What an absolutely disgusting comment. People like you are horribly evil in the head.

        Anyways, India provides you the second largest share for you education sector which you greedily lap up. And now that’s going away. India’s already issued an advisory against your country and there’s a lot more to come.

  • louise

    I am sorry, but people are murdered and assaulted in Australia everyday. They care from all walks of life. They are Australian, Italian, Lebanese, Somali, Asian, and yes Indian. I don’t believe there is a particukar race targeted. If you choose to live in certain ‘unsavoury’ suburbs, then you are more predisposed to these types of behaviours. Violence is rife in Footscray. I certainly wouldn’t walk through a park at night, whether is was Toorak or Footscray!

    Perhaps the Indian government could assist the return of the Indian driver that caused a death and used his mates passport to flee. How about the latest Indian that caused the death of an unborn child and fled the scene. I cannot believe he wanted his name suppressed due to him being vicimised.

    I understand that the loss of Indian students will cause a huge dint in the revenue from education, but i guess more Australians will be able to study their 1st choice of Uni courses.

    • caius

      I am sorry but your argument makes no sense. Just because people get killed everyday doesn’t justify someone’s death. This is not the first time that an Indian student has been killed or murdered over skin color. People are angry because this has happened before and I can send you numerous articles describing instances of racism in Australia where Indian’s have been targeted. If you want to study your first choice in your uni then maybe you should tell your government not to accept international students.

      • Alex

        And I can show numerous articles describing instances of blatant racism in India. I expect you’d immediately jump to conclusion that India is “racist” and start screaming about it.

  • M.V.Sankaran

    If Australians are welcome to India to study and work in their specialized fields in an atmosphere of peace and goodwill without being discriminated against by reason of their race or color, abused or any form of violence shown against them (remember the case of an Australian family – Christian missionaries – attacked at Orissa some years ago?), then perhaps there might be respite from this kind of mindless violence that we are witnessing today at Oz. Really speaking, are we free from prejudice towards the white race ourselves?

    • Glenn

      You make a good point, racism is double sided. But I would still like to point out that this crime has not been in any way attributed to racism except in the fantasies of a few sensationalists.

  • Simon

    As an educated, civilised Australian, normally I would say that Australia is not a racist country and sure that there is violence everywhere. However last year I witnessed a cowardly attack on a young Indian student on a suburban train in Melbourne and am convinced without a doubt that there is an element in our society that is targeting Indian students. I was not only shocked at the gutless assault by a gang of about 5 teenage thugs, but that it was clearly racially motivated. They clearly singled him out of everyone on a train and shouted racial insults at him as they kicked him, punched him and yelled things like “fucking student”, “curry munching cunt”, “go back to India” and “stop stealing our fucking jobs” in full view of all the passengers just before the train stopped and they fled. What shocked me most is that I was the only one to went in aid of the him – everyone else on the train completely turned a blind eye pretending nothing was happening. The poor guy was shaken and embarrassed and did not want to file a police report, but I insisted and took him to the office at station and I made a statement including descriptions and the racist element. I asked the police whether they would review the video on the train and they said it is unlikely as these attacks happen frequently, mostly by juveniles who know that nothing is going to stop them. I am truly disgusted at the actions of my fellow countrymen, many who have either never crawled from out of the gutter. I am also ashamed that our country does not take this problem seriously enough. Victoria is breeding scum. Our police force is horrendously overloaded and understaffed. It is disgraceful in the light of this tragedy that our government continues to trade on platitudes and denial rather than seek to remedy the obvious problem.

    • Glenn

      Simon, while these incidents can occur they happen to all groups, asians can get the same treatment for lebonese, lebonese can get the same treatment from somalis etc. No ‘race’ is innocent, what we need to make sure we do as educated and civilized Australians is not let the few dictate the nature of the many. How many Australians do you personally know who are genuinely racist? You could ask how many know that beat up the elderly for money or steal cars. For most of us the answer in none. In every society and the cultural facets within there will always be people who commit crime.

      Lets not blow out individual situations like this, instead lets look at the real issues which you touched on. Lack of good policing and governence. As much as I dislike the American culture replacing our own we could really take a leap out of New Yorks zero tolerance to crime policies.

    • Talwar Singh

      Thank You Simon.!! Thank you bringing up the incident, which you have witnessed, to everyones notice incl. the police who turned a blind eye.Such a shame.!
      I know everyone who is reading this article knows (incl. the author Kevin) the fact these attacks were racially motivated but don’t want to accept it.
      I hope the Victoria Police atleast is as wise as you. I am glad that the Indian student enrollment rate went down by 46 percent in last 6 months. I hope this goes down to 0 pretty soon. And I wish the entire world recognizes the seriousness of the things happening in Australia and avoid to travel or pursue higher studies in this country till the Police in this country starts accepting the fact that there is exists in this country and that they need to act and curb violence.

      • Talwar

        I have an open mind on what caused this tragic death. Is there any evidence that the Victoria Police are not pursuing Nitin Garg’s killer(s) vigorously and impartially.

        It is a very serious situation but it will only be improved with good will on all sides.

      • Alex

        46% drop was mainly due to visa restrictions introduced later last year. Even so number students arriving from some countries actually increased, eg Vietnam, China.
        But it actually would be good to review immigration policy as some these attacks are indeed racist and caused by ethnic gangs who arrived in Australia in recent years. This is video was shown on all channels in India as an proof that Australia is “racist”
        The truth is, number of people willing to migrate only increasing. People scream about Australia being “racist” yet more and more people are desperate to get there “by all means”, particularly from countries like India.

    • Simon,

      I feel immense amount of respect towards you for sticking out for the young lad who was kicked and beaten up. You are the kind of “Australian” people hope to find everywhere in Australia. Great job!

      As you mentioned, no one on the train was doing anything and there were 5 young boys / girls who were attacking the Indian student. I would like to ask, why didn’t you intervene when the attack was actually happening? Did the attackers have guns? Were they huge and you thought you couldn’t take them down? Why did you wait for the attack to stop?

  • Mike

    The Commonwealth of Thieves: where the murder rate is MUCH lower than it is in India.

  • Mike

    Louise, less Indian students is more likely to lead to LESS places for Australians. Income from international students puts massive amounts of money into Australian universities for the benefit of locals including MORE places.

  • In October 2007 I wrote an article about the vilification of the Sudanese community in Australia by some politicians following a street attack: ‘Australia’s multicultural society works!’

    I reflected on my experiences in Melbourne: “During the mid 60s the most dangerous places on Saturday nights were the stations on the Dandenong line. The gangs in those days were definitely Anglo-Saxon. In 1996 there was a gang fight on Noble Park station. Some of our students were expelled as a consequence of their participation. One of the ringleaders was a Sikh.” Please read the full article before commenting. The title gives a clear indication of my attitudes.

    The current situation must be faced with eyes wide open. It needs to be addressed using the goodwill of all parts of Australian’s multicultural society and cool heads that can build solutions to such very complex problems where violence and race are involved.

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