SYDNEY: An Indian journalist, who was working undercover in Australia to expose an education and migration scam and was assaulted over the weekend, has said her attacker “looked like an Indian person“.
The reporter, a 28-year-old long-time resident of Australia, told The Australian on Wednesday: “My attacker looked like an Indian person and I was threatened in Hindi.”
She was attacked in an inner-city Sydney street on Saturday afternoon when a man wearing a turban came at her with an “almighty elbow to the right shoulder“, the report said.
“I know it was not a racially motivated attack,” she said. “Most sane Indian students in Sydney and Melbourne don’t think these are racist-motivated attacks at all.
“Every country has a bit of racism here and there. And really, with the classist system in India, we have no right to speak. Certainly we have way more racism in our country than here in Australia.”
Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith on Tuesday said the government “won’t tolerate” any education and migration scam affecting foreign students.
Speaking on the ABC’s Australia Network, Smith said: “Of course it’s very concerning… On the migration front, when we were in opposition we did express significant concerns about the regulation of migration agents, and as a consequence of that we’ve recently seen a migration regulatory authority come into existence to regulate that industry better.
“But any of these abuses we, of course, won’t tolerate and don’t tolerate. And the cracking down so far as the migration agents’ regulatory arrangements are concerned will assist in that process.”
After the assault on the journalist, police and immigration officials on Monday raided the office of an agent allegedly involved in exploiting foreign students.
The reporter had gone to two migration agents posing as someone wanting to pass an English language test without having the skills and told them that she was willing to buy fake work certificates.
She learnt she could do both if she paid between $3,000 and $5,000.
There have also been at least 19 incidents of attacks on Indian students or their property in Australia since May 9. The attacks, in Melbourne and Sydney, have caused an uproar in India.
There are about 90,000 Indians studying in Australia.
The student victims have said the incidents seemed racially motivated.
The Four Corners programme exposed “a number of cases where students (coming to Australia) have lost tens of thousands of dollars”, ABC Online said.
The programme highlighted the plight of Indian students and also revealed unscrupulous practices by migration and education agents.
The ABC investigation followed the spate of attacks on Indian students, which also prompted the students to take out rallies to protest the muggings and assaults on them.
Authorities said Indians were the victims of crime because they were more likely than others to be travelling late at night on public transport.
Australia has pulled in many Indian students with its offer of permanent residency for those who gain diplomas in vocational subjects.
But then, due to the economic downturn, the government in December made it more difficult for those with vocational qualifications to become permanent residents.