Australia welcomes Indian call for restraint over attacks

Australia's government on Sunday welcomed a call from India for restraint in media coverage of attacks on Indians, stressing there was no evidence that race was a factor in two recent incidents.

Australian police survey the Melbourne park where Indian student Nitin Garg was stabbed to death on January 2.

New Delhi urged its media to act responsibly after an Indian man was burned in an incident in Melbourne on Saturday, a week after 21-year-old Nitin Garg was stabbed to death in the city's western suburbs.

The attacks followed a spate of violence against Indians in Victoria state last year and have prompted a strong reaction in the Indian press, with one newspaper likening Australian police to the racist Ku Klux Klan.

Australia's acting foreign minister Simon Crean welcomed the statement from foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash, who advised the Indian media to "exercise utmost restraint in reporting on these sensitive issues".

"I am very pleased that overnight the government has issued what I believe is a very constructive and responsible advice and that is, not to overreact to it, to understand that investigations are being undertaken," Crean said.

"We need to get all of the facts first and we shouldn't overreact until all of the facts are in."

Ties between Australia and India, growing trade partners, have come under pressure following the murder of Garg, who was stabbed in the abdomen as he walked to work at a hamburger restaurant late at night.

In the latest incident, 29-year-old Jaspreet Singh told police that he was doused with petrol and set on fire by a group of men as he parked his car in the early hours of Saturday.

Singh suffered burns to 15 percent of his body and is recovering in hospital.

Crean, who is also Australia's trade minister, said police had found no evidence that the latest incidents were racially motivated.

"I think it is also important in terms of the most recent incident, that a relative of Mr Singh ... also doesn't believe that it was racially based."

A series of attacks on Indian nationals and students in Australia sparked street protests in the middle of 2009.

Source: AFP

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