Australia on Thursday assured India that 'firm action' will be taken against those responsible for the recent attacks on Indian students, as External Affairs Minister S M Krishna took up the issue with the authorities in Sydney, amid serious concerns over it back home.
During his meeting with New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees, Krishna, who is on a five-day visit to Australia, was assured that firm action will be taken against the perpetrators. Rees also assured Krishna that inputs from the Indian community will be included in the action plan for international students.
He informed the minister that a meeting of the task force on the issue was to be held on Friday. The external affairs minister, who met the Indian community representatives to get first-hand information about the problems faced by them, stated that "well being and safety of Indians overseas is a top priority for the government of India."
The Indian community leaders emphasised that immediate action by Australian government in every case was necessary and asked Krishna to tell authorities of this country to be more cooperative. They stressed that Australia was not a racist country.
During their meeting with Krishna, the students demanded that an emergency fund should be created for refunding of the fees in case of closure of colleges. The students also complained of exploitation by unscrupulous agents, who take fees in advance.
The minister said advertisements in India about Australian colleges should be certified by consulates to prevent wrong information from being circulated among the prospective students.
"Students should be given what they are promised of as they take loans to come to Australia to study. We need to reassure our students as well as their anxious parents in India on this account," Krishna said.
The external affairs minister also met NSW Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, police officials and immigration officials. Krishna is scheduled to visit Melbourne as well and meet Indian community representatives there.
He will also hold talks with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his counterpart Stephen Smith during his visit.
Image: A student protests against the racial attacks in Sydney | Photograph: Reuters