Indian newspaper's 'Ku Klux Klan' cartoon Offensive

A Catoon depicting a Victorian police officer as a member of the Ku Klux Klan is ''deeply offensive'', the acting Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said.

The cartoon appeared in the newspaper Mail Today in Delhi on Tuesday and was created in response to police statements that it was unclear whether the fatal attack on Nitin Garg, 21, an Indian graduate, in a Yarraville park was racially motivated.

Ms Gillard, in Brisbane yesterday, condemned the content and intent of the cartoon.

The secretary of the Police Association Victoria, Greg Davies, said members of the homicide squad investigating the murder of Mr Garg were ''personally offended'', but it would not detract from their determination to find the killer.

The Victorian Police Minister, Bob Cameron, told Fairfax Radio that ''this business about racism is just wrong''.

Amid the media frenzy the incident has caused in the subcontinent, Australia's high commissioner in India, Peter Varghese, whose parents are Indian, sought to defend Australia from the charge of racism in a news conference on Wednesday that was screened live on four television channels.

Mr Varghese said: "There is an unfortunate tendency in the tabloid media to equate anything bad happening to a person of Indian origin to racism. Then they focus on why you won't admit it is racism, because they take it as a given that any attack has to be a racist attack.''

Mr Varghese said the media were not ''particularly anti-Australian'' but some self-proclaimed Indian community spokesmen in Australia had helped to inflame the hysteria.

''It is partly the success of Indian spokesmen in Australia jumping onto the media bandwagon and providing quotable quotes to the Indian media.''

Within weeks of arriving in India last August Mr Varghese was doing the media rounds and drawing on his own experiences - he was born in Kenya and arrived in Australia when he was eight - to present a picture of tolerance in modern Australia.

"Did I ever encounter a hostile reaction or an incidence of racism? Sure,'' he told NDTV's Walk the Talk chat show.

''But I could probably count on one hand in the 40-plus years that I have been in Australia when that has happened.''

It is a fact Indians living in Victoria are 2½ times more likely to be assaulted than non-Indians.

So far, Victoria Police confirmed that assault and robbery victims of Indian appearance had increased 5.4 per cent in the past year: 1525, up from 1449 in 2007-2008. In the 2006-7 financial year there were 1082 attacks on Indians in Victoria.

The assault rate for Indians in the state was about 1700 in every 100,000, against about 700 in every 100,000 for non-Indians

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