Indian community in Australia welcomes first use of race-hate laws

     Victorian Premier John Brumby and Indian community leaders in Australia have welcomed the first use of race-hate laws after Victorian police charged two men with inciting racial hatred during a 45-minute drunken assault on an Indian student on a bus. Vasan Srinivasan, the president of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, said that while the charge had yet to be proved, it would send a strong message that crimes motivated by race, religion, or colour would not be tolerated, reports. "It's a sad day to teach the community what to do and what not to do. It is not only symbolic, it is sad . . . that we have to go this far to educate the community," he said. Graphics student Rajan Kumar Katkam has alleged that on the afternoon of February 6, while travelling on a bus from Frankston to Rye, south of Melbourne, he was punched and kicked and subjected to drunken racial taunts from three young men for 45 minutes. He said on Wednesday that during the assault, which took place on a crowded bus, only one young woman attempted to intervene, but was told, "if you're going to support him we are going to bash you first". Kumar alleged the men kicked him in the back, punched him in the head, made comments about his colour and said black people "need to be like slaves". He said he became so fearful he asked the men whether he could get off the bus, although he did not know where he was, but this only incited them further and one of them came towards him carrying a bottle and shouting, "you people are racists; we're not racists". Two of the suspects, aged in their 20s, have received summons to appear at Frankston Magistrates Court on September 1, charged with intentionally causing injury, unlawful assault, assault in company, offensive language and inciting racial hatred.

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