10 Oct 2010

Complaint by Indian govt about Australian email

1:00 pm on 10 October 2010

Australia now has its own racist Indian incident, with the Indian government calling the country's High Commissioner in Delhi, to complain.

High Commissioner Peter Varghese says he is disgusted by reports that an email showing the electrocution of an Indian man was circulated among members of the Victoria Police force.

According to a Herald Sun report, the email contains video footage of a man being killed after touching overhead wires while standing on top of a crowded train in India.

The newspaper says one of the comments added to the email as it was circulated was: "This might be a way to fix the Indian student problem".

The ABC reports the comment was a reference to a spate of violent attacks against Indians, particularly international students, in Victoria last year.

The attacks sparked claims that the violence was racially motivated and concerns that Australia's international education industry could be damaged.

News of the email prompted the Indian government to summon High Commissioner Peter Varghese in New Delhi, saying such "entrenched bias" amongst law enforcers towards the Indian community was a matter of serious concern.

Mr Varghese joined Victorian Premier John Brumby and Police Commissioner Simon Overland in condemning the emails on Saturday.

"This is an email which is offensive, it is unacceptable and it is completely contrary to the principles of respect and tolerance that we seek to embed in Australian society," Mr Varghese told Indian media after visiting the country's external affairs ministry in Delhi.

Asked if the emails reflected the general attitudes of police in Victoria, Mr Varghese said only two low-ranking officers were involved.

"I don't think you should tar the entire Victorian police force with the actions of two individuals who are clearly engaged in completely unacceptable behaviour," he said.

Commissioner Overland said one of the officers had already resigned while under investigation and the other is on sick leave pending serious disciplinary charges.

"Victoria Police is incredibly disappointed with the actions of these two individuals, following all the positive work being undertaken with the Indian community, the Indian High Commissioner and the Indian Consular General in support and assisting Indian nationals living in Melbourne," he said.