Though Australian politicians are trying to put on a brave face over the murder of Indian student Nitin Garg recently, the country has received a bad press everywhere. The police are also swinging into some action, ordering random searches and seizing weapons.
In China, the birthplace of almost a quarter of Australia's international students, the major state-run television network yesterday reported the factually incorrect claim that police had confirmed that the murder of Indian national Ranjodh Singh, whose partially burnt body was found beside a country road in south-west NSW on December 29, was "racially motivated".
AdvertisementThe official Chinese newsagency, Xinhua, this week reported that the stabbing murder of Mr Garg, as he made his way to work at a fast-food outlet in Melbourne's west on Saturday night, had taken place "in the wake of a wave of attacks upon Indian students in Australia last year".
The Malaysian Sun published its report under the headline: "Australian Government unable to stop crime against Indians."
The western media is awash with similarly damaging reports.
Of course the major worry is what would happen to the country's $17 billion international education industry, and so authorities are racking their brains on how to win back the lost trust of the student community abroad.
Australia's high commissioner to India, Peter Varghese, told journalists in New Delhi race may have been a motive for some recent attacks on Indian nationals, particularly where the attackers engaged in racial abuse. But he told a press conference most assaults on Indian students were "opportunistic urban crime".
Acting Victorian Premier Rob Hulls said Nitin Garg's death "confirms absolutely that we have to do everything we can to support police to wipe out street crime, to wipe out knife-related crime, and that's why these powers are so important".
Mr Hulls and the deputy commissioner met with the Indian high commissioner and consul general on Thursday to reassure them that Victoria was doing everything possible to bring Mr Garg's killer to justice.
They also sought to assure the Indian diplomats that the state was a safe place to study.
In the meanwhile, police said they found knives, a machete and knuckledusters in a random search for weapons at a Melbourne railway station, days after Nitin Garg was stabbed nearby.
In a show of their resolve to stamp out violent street crime, a team of officers patrolled Footscray train station on Thursday searching for knives.
The trial search-and-seize blitz, dubbed operation Omni, has been made possible by a beefing up of police powers and is expected to be expanded to other suburbs.
People were scanned with a metal detector wand, then frisked and body searched if required.
Deputy Police Commissioner Kieran Walshe said the operation was a success, AAP reported.
"Today's operation has enabled us to detect these weapons before they are used in crimes, making the area much safer for train commuters and the broader community," he said in a statement.
"It is our intention to run a number of targeted operations in weapons hot spots this year until we see a reduction in weapon related crimes," he said.
Earlier, Mr Walshe told reporters police were required to give the public seven days notice of planned search operations but other, intelligence based, searches could be carried out without warning.
"I am confident that these laws are going to give us a great opportunity to take weapons out of the community," Mr Walshe said.
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