Melbourne, Jan.16: Attacks on Indians in Australia continued unabated with yet another taxi driver being punched by his passengers, an assault described as "opportunistic" and "not racially motivated" by police.
In the second such incident in as many days, the 25-year-old taxi driver suffered bruises on his body and swelling on the face after he was roughed up by his four male passengers in the Victorian city of Ballarat, 110- kms west of Melbourne just before midnight, police said.
The Ballart police constables dismissal of the attack as not racial came even as a top Victorian police official made a candid admission that there were "racists in Melbourne."
In the latest assault, police in a statement said, "the four became abusive towards the Indian driver while he was driving and started assaulting him with one-of-the passengers in the rear seat even spitting on him."
The passengers attempted to force the vehicle to stop by pulling the hand-break and tried to force the drivers hand from the steering wheel, police added.
As the car pulled over, two of the four passengers tried to flee with the Indian driver giving them a chase. However, the third passenger punched him to the ground.
Police believe that the attackers were aged between 16 to 18. But dismissed the attack as "opportunistic".
Police said they had a fair idea who the offenders were, saying "we believe they are known to us," but denied it was a racial attack.
No entry for Indians or asians in Bars and restaurents in Australia
Australian bar turns away three Indians
Three Indians were among a group of six South Asians who were denied entry by a bar in Melbourne in what is being described by them as "a case of racism", amid a slew of attacks on students from the community in Australia.
"We had gone to the bar to throw a farewell party for one of our friends, Abhishek Aggarwal, who is about to leave for India" on Wednesday, said Sujan Pathak, a Nepalese citizen who was part of the group.
However, he said the youths, all in their mid-20s, were turned away by the Melbourne Centre Lion Hotel bar without giving any explanation.
The group of friends -- three Indians and three Nepalese -- just wanted to know the reason for this and contacted police who refused to help them on the issue, Pathak said.
All bars here display a notice outside that they can turn away any customer without giving any explanation.
"We tried to get into the bar, There were so many guys in front of us and right behind us as well in the queue. They denied us (entry), said ’you guys can’t get in’," Aggarwal told NDTV over phone after the late last night incident.
"We were not drunk, we were carrying our age proof, we were properly attired. But still they said ’you guys can’t get in’. They didn’t give us any reason. We waited there for 10 minutes. All other guys were getting in... but we were not allowed to go inside.