Another weekend brings another round of violent incidents.
Firstly, 9 young men were arrested yesterday after two Indian men were attacked in Melbourne's CBD on Monday night. 5 of them, aged 19 and 20, were charged with affray, assault and intentionally causing injury. The remaining 4 may yet face charges.
The Indians described being racially abused by the group at 10:20pm on the corner of Latrobe and Swanston Streets, then being pushed to the ground and punched and kicked. One of the victims had microsurgery on an abrasion suspected of being from a bladed weapon.
The charged men have been described by police as Asian and Caucasian, from the suburbs of Carlton, Abbotsford, Warrandyte and Northcote and Donvale. The were bailed to appear in court on April 5th.
Meanwhile in Brisbane on Thursday night, a 25-year-old Indian man was assaulted and robbed while using a phone box in Macgregor. Two youths aged 15 and 20 are facing court in relation to the attack.
On the same night, taxi driver and student Sandeep Goyal (pictured), aged 20, was attacked by brothers Brett Anthony Gill, 28, and Joshua Philip Colin Gill, 25, apparently following an argument over the $6 fare. The two men have been charged with assault occasioning bodily harm while armed, with wilful damage and attempted stealing in company.
Acting police commissioner Kathy Rynders says there is no suggestion race was a factor in either incident. Which may well be true, but some would suggest that such a response is all too predictable from the police. But representatives of Brisbane's Indian community fear that they may be copycat incidents inspired by the violence in Sydney and Melbourne.
That raises an interesting question, which certainly occurred to me when I heard about the bashing in Melbourne. Has publicity about anti-Indian violence made it into some kind of trend? I'm not saying it has (not knowing all the facts in any of the incidents), but you have to wonder. Consider also the way that some elements in the media seem keen to portray Indians (here and abroad) as paranoid crybabies. Add to that the early police statements which gained wide currency about Indians being easy targets because they were passive and carried around iPods and laptops. It is possible that there is a second wave of these attacks which have been strongly influenced by media coverage. Which is a real worry.
I'm not sure if it's giving the police too much credit, but this might be the reason they seem to want to play down any racial element in the attacks. It is certainly worth considering if the media has to change its approach to covering these crimes. Although articles like Alan Howe's (which I wrote about here) which seek to paint Indians as hypocritical whingers, would be the first thing to change.
For more information about attacks on Indians in Australia, try in my archives here.