Student’s murder prompts India to issue travel advisory for Australia
By Ravi Matah
NEW DELHI – India has issued a travel advisory for Indian students in Australia following the death of 21-year-old student Nitin Garg even as police in Melbourne appealed to witnesses to come forward.
The travel advisory was the latest indication of deteriorating trust and relationship between the two Commonwealth nations over a number of frightening racial incidents aimed at Indian students in Australia.
Garg, an Indian national, was stabbed to death in a park in Melbourne on the weekend, leading to allegations that it follows a pattern of violent attacks against Indian students.
India’s external affairs ministry warned on its website on Wednesday that students in Australia should exercise caution and issued a number of warnings about safety.
The ministry suggested Indian students should not travel alone and should move in groups. They should stay in well lit locations at night.
Students were warned to advise someone of their whereabouts while travelling. The government also said Indian students should not carry cash or laptops with them while moving around.
Victoria police in Melbourne said Garg died when someone stabbed him in Cruickshank Park. He was rushed to Royal Melbourne Hospital but succumbed to his injuries.
“Homicide detectives are appealing to a group who were in Cruickshank Park, the scene of a fatal stabbing overnight, to come forward. There is nothing to indicate that people from the group, seen in the park in the afternoon and evening, are linked to the attack however police believe they may have information,” a police press release said.
Police said the victim took a train to Yarraville station a short time after 9:30 p.m. on the night of the slaying. He walked west along Anderson Street and Austin East Road before heading through Cruickshank Park where it appears he was attacked.
The victim staggered across Somerville Road to a fast food restaurant where he collapsed before 10 p.m. on Sunday, police said of the attack.
“It is an unfortunate, very unfortunate circumstance, but the police have continued to re-affirm the fact that there is no evidence that this is a racially-based attack,” Australian Acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean told reporters on Tuesday.
He added that the incident was one of several stabbings that took place in Melbourne over the Christmas period, and emphasised that such attacks can happen anywhere.
Australian police say that while some attacks on Indians are racially motivated, many are ordinary crimes. They say Indian students are vulnerable because they often travel alone late at night to part-time jobs or from universities carrying valuables such as laptop computers.
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