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


  • Ignatius

    Australia is a first world country, and its about time the country should live up to its title in terms of mentality, attitudes and ethics. If the some locals have a problem with immigrants entering their country, they should voice it out or petition instead of physically harassing or inflicting harm on the immigrants. Such attacks are neither justified nor should it be condone in a first world country.

    But then again, Australia will have to face the music for its actions until \sincere\ measures are taken to eradicate racism. i.e. tarnished reputation, continuing animosity between races. God bless Australia.

  • Glenn

    The radical posting on this comments thread is disgusting. There has been NO (that is ZERO) evidence this was a race related crime. Does that not register with people? Seriously, posting this garbage about race being the reason this poor chap was murdered is not only pure fiction and offensive it also detracts for the key issue here. That is that areas of low socio-economics have high crime rates and walking alone at night is dangerous. I also think it’s appling to say he would ‘choose’ to live in and walk around a dangerous suburb at night. When you don’t have a lot of money you don’t have a lot of choice.

    The ignorance on both sides of the arguement here is really appaling and disgusting, not to mention disrespectful to the deceased. Grow up the lot of you and stop pointing fingers at ghosts.

  • Mitch

    While I know from experience of the racism that exists in segments of Australia, how can anyone say this is racially motivated without all the facts? What if the killer is not white? A lot of people will have egg on their face.
    And why is this particular murder investigation put ahead of others and had much more resources thrown at it than all other current homicide cases? The homicide squad are always investigating many murders Asian, Indian, African and whiteys. The Aussie police do treat every investigation the same regardless of what you look like.
    The government is just scared of losing the Indian student $$$, they don’t care about the drunken violence that exists in our cities.
    I wonder if people in India know about Amrick Thind who just recently drove into a pregnant woman and killed an unborn baby then fled the scene? Or how about Puneet Puneet who was driving drunk and killed a young student, he then fled to India and has never been caught and Indian police have not helped at all to catch him. We should be burning effigies too!
    Rest in peace Nitin Garj. I hope your killer/s are shown some real justice.

  • Vivek

    My friends were traveling by train in .au and there was this weird white chick that started abusing them and calling them brownies. On the other hand, I’ve seen auto drivers in India rip-off white skinned foreigners who visit India.

    Racism is everywhere. So long as this doesn’t get institutionalized, I don’t think that we need to panic.

  • Justin

    The Cruickshank park murder may not have been racially motivated – it was 10:00 at night, and the prospect of racists gangs hanging around expecting to find an Indian (or anyone) in the park is doubtful.

    However, there is no doubt the murder of the lecturer Dr Zhongjun Cao, walking home around 6:00 pm, was racially motivated. The ringleader of the murderers, John Caratozzolo, kicked him in the head and laughed at him as he lay dying. The judge in the case, Justice Harper, said a second assault by Caratozzolo on another victim that night was also racist; saying Caratozzolo had learnt to swear at Indians in Hindi and learnt words and phrases ‘‘designed to cause maximum offence’’.

    The fact that neither Cao (who was Chinese) or the other victim were Indian shows only that these were incompetent racists, not that they weren’t targetting Indians. Caratozzolo had a minimum sentence of only 10 years, despite the viciousness of the crime.

    Also there is no doubt that in an attack which left Sukhraj Singh in a coma was racially motivated.
    In sentencing one of the attackers, Zakarie Hussein, 21, of Braybrook, Judge Pamela Jenkins said the group had deliberately targeted victims of Indian ethnicity in the “unprovoked rampage”.

    The youths had been drinking beer in a park for about four hours before they went to the store in City Place just after 6.30pm where two of the teens began a racist argument with two customers, the court heard.

    About five minutes later, the pair returned with their friends, most armed with wooden bars and one with a fluorescent light tube, and began smashing up the store and indiscriminately striking customers and staff as they yelled “are you Indian?” and “bloody Indians, f— off”.

    The shop’s cash register was stolen and the loot divided up among the offenders. Hussein received about $15.

    In reference to the work “A Commonwealth of Thieves:The Improbable Birth of Australia”, it should be noted that hate literature like this is just the other side of the coin.

    Neither Caratozzolo nor the other person convicted of Cao’s murder, nor Hussein, happen to be descended from the Anglo-Celts deported from UK. Racism is not restricted to those of Anglo-Celtic background. In fact, the idea that criminality is passed on through the genes through 6 generations is deeply racist. It also ignores the minor offences that people were transported from, and shows a general ignorance of the period. Thank heaven mindless bigots like this do not want to visit this country – we have enough of our own.

  • VK

    \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\

    What the crap..!! Now because Australians cannot accept that they are racist, so why not shift the blame on Islam. again..!! Fantastic.. Dave, get your facts right. I have been abused several times in Australia being an immigrant. Everyone here knows that it is a problem but its being suppressed by Media and Govt.

    • Alex

      Just out of curiosity, not implying anything, just asking: If Australia is so “terribly racist”, if you as an immigrant was abused several times, why don’t you choose better place where you’d not be abused because of your skin? Why do you tolerate these “ignorant racist australians”? I’m just curious. Isn’t being victim of racism one of worst thing in this world? I think so. I’m myself experienced it several times until I migrated to Australia.

  • chris


    you might find this handy as well. So what does it mean?

  • Alex

    You find it disgusting that somebody says “Indians are always quick to play the victim card.” yet yourself call Australians “racists” and Australia “A Commonwealth of Thieves” which is blatantly racist. What a hypocrite.

  • There has been criticism of some sensational Indian media coverage. According to the Times Online UK, “The Indian government has urged its media to show restraint when reporting attacks on Indian students in Australia.”

  • viv

    ‘Australia – a different light.’

    Hey, we get it now.

    White Australia, perhaps?

    Not fair dinkum, ya reckon?

    Ponder this.

    Many Australians react with displeasure to the accusations of racism.

    A shame that many Australians react with scantly any displeasure to the attacks on Indians.

    This only serves to feed the accusation of racism (even if the jury is still not in on that one).

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