Gillard rejects India's travel warning

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has rejected a travel warning from the Indian Government over its citizens visiting Australia.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has rejected a travel warning from the Indian Government over its citizens visiting Australia.

The country has advised thousands of Indians studying in Australia to take precautions against possible attacks after a 21-year-old Indian man was killed in Melbourne.

The state advisory came after Nitin Garg was stabbed to death on Saturday night, prompting New Delhi to warn that such attacks could cloud bilateral ties with Australia.

"The government advises Indian students studying in Australia as well as those planning to study there, that they should take certain basic precautions in being alert to their own security while moving around," the advisory said.

But Julia Gillard has told the ABC that Australia is safe for foreign students and that it shouldn't be singled out.

“In big cities around the world we do see acts of violence from time to time; that happens in Melbourne, it happens in Mumbai, it happens in New York, it happens in London." she said.

Victoria's Acting Premier, Rob Hulls, also spoke to the ABC and added, "Whilst warnings are entirely a matter for the Indian government, everyone needs to realise that Melbourne is a welcoming, open place that certainly welcomes Indian students and students from all around the world.”

Attacks and robberies 'on the rise'

The Indian foreign ministry's eight-point advisory also asked Indian citizens to report "complaints" to Indian diplomatic missions in Australia.

"The number of such incidents of assault as well as of robbery has been on the rise in recent months, which has affected not only Indian students but also members of the larger Indian community in Australia," it added.

Australian police have said there is no evidence Garg's murder was racially motivated but conceded that 1,447 people of Indian descent were victims of a crime in Victoria in the 12 months to July 2008.

Garg's murder has received wide coverage in India, with one newspaper describing his death as proof "that the issue of racist attacks on the Indian community needs to be addressed by the Australian authorities".

Popular destination

Students from the Indian subcontinent account for 19 per cent of total international enrolments. They filled 117,000 places in the 12 months to October 2009, according to Australian government statistics.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Victoria Premier John Brumby have all visited India recently to ease frictions and promote Australia's $A16 billion foreign education export industry, the country's fourth-largest export earner.

Source AAP, SBS

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