The police need to acknowledge and loudly condemn racially targeted attacks on Indian international students.
Sourabh Sharma, an Indian international student, was travelling home on the train after a shift at KFC when he was brutally bashed and robbed by six people.
As the 21-year-old lay on the floor, being kicked in the head, face and ribs, his attackers screamed racial insults. They left him bleeding, broken-boned and crying on the floor of the train while other passengers watched and did nothing to intervene.
Sourabh is but one of many victims in a series of similar attacks in the western suburbs.
I am another brown person. I can say unequivocally, on behalf of every other non-white person in the country, that hearing about racially motivated crimes frightens us.
To an aggressor bent on beating up a "fob" (fresh off the boat) or a "curry", it does not matter that I was born here, and that my parents came here long before the attacker was born. To the aggressor, I simply match the description of their target.
What concerns me is that each time an attack against an Indian is reported, Victoria Police has quite determinedly ensured the issue of racism is not closely linked to the crime.
In May, the Islamic Council of Victoria issued a media release noting that police had "failed to adequately address the cause of the attacks - which is racism".
In response, Superintendent Graham Kent lashed out at the council on 3AW, claiming the police were "disappointed" and that the statement was "uninformed".
What is uninformed is the assertion by police that the attacks against people of Indian appearance were "based on opportunity, not race". Inspector Scott Mahoney said that "sometimes, it's just a combination of timing and chance". Is that supposed to mean that the attackers don't see colour when they incessantly find targets of Indian appearance? These "chance" encounters that he describes are occurring with alarming regularity.
With respect, the inspector's analysis is flawed. Victoria Police has itself claimed that people of Indian background are "over-represented as victims". When both the victims and the aggressors claim that these attacks are racially motivated, what purpose does it serve to avoid a discussion about racism?
The police are charged with upholding the law and fighting crime, whatever its causes. There is little benefit in denying the existence of racist attitudes in our communities.
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