The partially burnt remains of an Indian national have been discovered on a rural road in Australia, escalating a row between New Delhi and Canberra over the treatment of Indian students in the country.
News of the death of Ranjodh Singh, 25, whose body was found southwest of Sydney, follows Saturday’s killing of Nitin Garg, which Indian leaders condemned.
The deaths follow a spate of attacks last year on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney that culminated in street protests and riots.
India has issued an advisory warning to students about an increase in attacks in Melbourne, urging them to take precautions such as avoiding traveling alone at night.
Describing the knife attack on Garg in Melbourne as a “heinous crime on humanity,” India’s foreign minister, SM Krishna, urged the Australian government to act over the “uncivilised [and] brutal attack on innocent Indians.”
Garg, a 21-year-old student, was stabbed on his way to work at a restaurant in the Melbourne suburb of West Footscray on Saturday night.
Singh was a farm laborer living in Wagga Wagga. His body was found near the country town of Willbriggie.
In the advisory, India’s government said: “The ministry of external affairs cautions Indian students who are planning to study in Australia that there have been several incidents of robbery and assault on Indians in Australia, particularly in Melbourne, which has seen an increase in violence on its streets in recent years, with the offenders suspected to be mainly young people in their teens and early 20s.”
The incidents were “often accompanied by verbal abuse, fuelled by alcohol and drugs,” the statement said.
The advisory said the growing attacks on students from India — who make up one of Australia’s biggest and fastest growing education markets — was also harming the country’s Indian community.
“If you are travelling alone, make sure that you have checked out your route carefully and that you keep to well-lit, populated areas as far as possible,” the advice continued.
“Make sure that someone knows where you are going and at what time you are expected to return. Don’t carry more cash with you than what is required. Do not make it obvious that you are in possession of expensive items, such as iPods or laptops. Always carry some identification with you as well as details of who should be contacted in an emergency. If in danger, dial 000 to get police help.”
Australia attempted to downplay the attacks, denying they were racially motivated, as the Indian media and expat community claimed.
Australia’s acting foreign minister, Simon Crean, said he hoped “wiser heads” would prevail, insisting Australia, and in particular Melbourne, was a safe place for students as the city had one of the world’s lowest homicide rates.
“[Melbourne] is not the only place that deaths happen,” he said. “They happen in India. They happen in Mumbai. They happen in Delhi. It’s an unfortunate fact of life, but so far as the victim is concerned, and his parents, our deepest sympathy goes for them and we are doing everything we can to track down the perpetrators.”
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