Melbourne, Jan.8: Australia is upset with a cartoon published in an Indian newspaper that shows a person in a Ku Klux Klan hood wearing a Victoria Police badge. Mocking recent remarks by Australian officials that say attacks against Indians are not racist, but typical "urban crimes", the caption for the cartoon says : "We are yet to ascertain the nature of the crime."
Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said Mail Today’s cartoon and its Ku Klux Klan reference are unacceptable and "deeply offensive." She added that the police is working hard to keep Indian students safe.
Over the weekend, a 21-year-old Indian student Niti Garg, was knifed in West Footscray suburb of Melbourne while on his way to work last Saturday. He staggered to Hungry Jack’s restaurant - where he worked - and pleaded for help before collapsing.
He was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he died. Garg hailed from Punjab.
Since then, tension between India and Australia has escalated. External Affairs Minister SM Krishna has repeatedly emphasized that Australia is not able to protect Indian students. Different members of the Australian government retaliated by saying that attacks take place in all major cities in the world, including Mumbai.
Indians in Oz fear backlash over Ku Klux Klan cartoon
Fearing a backlash, the Indian community in Melbourne have condemned the cartoon in a Delhi newspaper that allegedly depicted a Victoria policeman as a member of hate group Ku Klux Klan and appealed not to associate racism with all crimes on the streets of Australia.
"The cartoon crosses all norms. It is going to seriously damage the fragile relationship. We appeal to Indian government to do something to moderate the behaviour of some section of Indian media," Ravi Bhatia, Chief of Primus Telecom, said.
Community leaders felt it was not going to help anyone and would harm the two sides, especially Indians living in Australia. "The matter should be left to police and investigating agency to find out the reason of the attack and police and government is putting all its efforts to do so," Bhatia said.
Sydney-based cardiologist Yadu Sigh said it was not appropriate to join the bandwagon of racism for the cold-blooded murder without knowing facts and one should think of the Indian community in Australia before drastic comments. He asked Federation of Indian Students in Australia(FISA) members to have a balanced view and refrain from bringing racial angle without proper basis.