Indians Down Under

Cover Up?

An Indian man is knifed in Brisbane, but the footage is kept under wraps. Deputy Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg fears a cover up, while Police Minister Neil Roberts admits that some attacks are quite obviously racially motivated

Australian police tried to hush up a knife attack on an Indian in Brisbane in March according to a media report. The report says that the attack took place at one of the busiest train stations in Australia but was hushed up in order to prevent sparking off another racial abuse debate.

Thirty-four-year-old Narendra Kumar Patel's throat was slashed in an attack on Platform 9 at Brisbane's Roma Street Station about 4.20 p.m. on March 17, the Courier Mail reported.

Though a 26-year-old man later handed himself in at the police headquarters near the station, the news of the knife attack was kept under wraps by authorities. The attack on Patel was seen by police monitoring the station on closed-circuit television screens, the report said. But details of the incident were never released despite the high-profile location.

A decision was taken by authorities not to release details of the assault, which was certain to fuel fears about train station safety or spark debate about whether Indians are the target of racially motivated attacks in the country. Police have refused to comment on the issue. But Deputy Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said the attack struck “at the heart of confidence of all rail commuters” and the public had a right to know about it.

“I hope that this has not been covered up or hosed down by our authorities because of the nationality of the victim,” he said. Meanwhile, Police Minister Neil Roberts said he had been briefed on recent incidents involving people from various ethnic backgrounds.

“Some are obviously racially motivated, however police advise me that in their opinion the majority of incidents involving persons from different ethnic backgrounds are not suspected of being racially motivated,” he said. Patel's attacker was charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and carrying a knife in a public place. However, despite police prosecutors opposing bail, the man was released and is due to face court again on April 15.

Daniel Pearl journalism internship for Banerjee

Devin Banerjee, an Indian American student at Stanford University, has been awarded the 2010 Daniel Pearl Memorial Journalism Internship, which will have him working in one of the Wall Street Journal's foreign bureaus this summer. 

Banerjee, editor-in-chief of the Stanford Daily, is working toward a degree in management science and engineering, with a concentration in technology and policy, according to a university news release. He expects to graduate in 2011. 

The internship was established to commemorate the work and ideals of Pearl, a Stanford graduate and Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002. 
In an essay written as part of the application process, Banerjee noted that Pearl rooted his stories in conversations with everyday people, “for it often was their absence from the larger conversation that yielded a nature of misunderstanding — the failure to connect the dots”.

Banerjee is from Calabasas in Southern California, and he has previously held internships at the San Jose Mercury News and the JoongAng Daily in Seoul, Korea. 

April 2010

click here to enlarge

 >> Cover Story
 >> From the Editor