“His brother is now travelling to Sydney from India after the visa process was expedited,” Seema Chauhan, a Gold Coast-based registered migration agent, told TOI. She has helped the family of Garg with the visa application and travel arrangements.
“During the Covid pandemic, I had helped several Indian students and visitors who were stranded in Australia with the processing of their documents and hence I reached out to the family of this young student,” said Chauhan, who immigrated to Australia 24 years ago as a student. “This is a one-off incident of crime, and students, who come to Australia from India and are looking ahead at a successful journey to permanent residence and citizenship after their education, should not feel alarmed,” she said.
Chauhan, however, added that the students, especially those who have recently arrived from India, should follow certain precautions to ensure their safety, especially when they are out late at night.
Sydney-based community leader and cardiologist, Dr Yadu Singh, who has been supporting the family, has visited Garg at the hospital and spoken to him. “The young man was knifed several times and his injuries were life-threatening; but he remains calm and composed and it’s a relief that he is gradually recovering after several surgeries. I have spoken to him and his roommate about the attack and it doesn’t appear to be a hate crime.”
He added the authorities of the University of NSW have been supporting Garg throughout this traumatic time. “Besides, the Indian consulate general in Sydney and Australian High Commission in Delhi too have reached out,” Dr Singh said, adding that support and goodwill for Garg has been pouring in from the Indian community across Australia. “We all feel like his surrogate family here and want to help,” said Singh, who plans to visit Garg at the hospital again soon.
Ravi Lochan Singh, president of the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India, too feels that though the incident is shocking because such attacks are rare in Sydney, the Indian students should not be unnecessarily alarmed. “The attack doesn’t appear to be directed at Garg because he is an Indian student and there isn’t a racist motive. The police were also very fast in arresting the suspected perpetrator who is now in jail,” Singh, who is based in Sydney, said.
Gurmeet Tuli, who runs a jewellery store in Sydney and is the president of Little India Australia, a cultural and business hub, feels that Indian students should be provided with knowledge about various local issues before they arrive in Australia. “This was a very brutal attack on a brilliant Indian student, who came to the University of New South Wales for a PhD degree after his masters at IIT Chennai. This is a law-and-order issue and it is the duty of the police here to protect Indian students and visitors,” Tuli said.
He added that there have been reports of attacks on Indians in different cities of Australia recently and that was very alarming for the community. “Steps need to be taken to increase awareness about the Indian community and our cultural values to increase tolerance towards us,” said Tuli who was at the helm of efforts by business owners at Little India, a street in Harris Park, Sydney, to distribute food rations and cooked meals to Indian students and tourists when they were stranded in Australia during the pandemic.
The businesses at Little India also support Indian students with employment opportunities during and after their education.