Modi Calls Turn­bull Over Death Of Bus Driver In Bris­bane

In­dian PM ex­presses ‘con­cern’ over at­tack, which has re­vived mem­o­ries of 2009 cri­sis over series of in­ci­dents in Aus­tralia in­volv­ing In­dian stu­dents.

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In­dia’s prime min­is­ter, Naren­dra Modi, has called Mal­colm Turn­bull to con­vey his ‘con­cern’ over the burn­ing death of Man­meet Alisher in Bris­bane. Alisher, from the In­dian state of Pun­jab, died on Fri­day af­ter an in­cen­di­ary de­vice was al­legedly thrown in­side a bus he was driv­ing. A Bris­bane man, An­thony Mark Ed­ward O’Dono­hue, ap­peared in court on Satur­day charged with mur­der, ar­son and sev­eral counts of at­tempted mur­der.

Hun­dreds at­tended a vigil for Alisher, 29, on Fri­day night and more than 1000 peo­ple were es­ti­mated to have at­tended a memo­rial ser­vice for the pop­u­lar mem­ber of Bris­bane’s In­dian com­mu­nity on Satur­day. Alisher’s brother Amit was is­sued an emer­gency visa and ar­rived in Aus­tralia on Sun­day to es­cort his brother’s body home, but was too up­set to speak to the me­dia. But a fam­ily friend who ac­com­pa­nied Amit to Aus­tralia said Alisher’s el­derly par­ents have not yet been told he was dead. “We haven’t told the par­ents that he’s no more, we just say it’s an ac­ci­dent, he’s in a coma,” Win­ner­jit Goldy said.

“It’s a re­ally hard time for us. This is a bad day in the his­tory of Aus­tralia. It’s a coun­try of jus­tice and we feel we will get a jus­tice. Modi, who has led In­dia’s government since 2014, called Mal­colm Turn­bull on Sun­day to con­vey the ‘sense of con­cern be­ing felt in In­dia’ over Alisher’s death, ac­cord­ing to an In­dian for­eign min­istry state­ment. Attacks on In­di­ans in Aus­tralia have been given wide­spread cov­er­age since a series of high-pro­file mur­ders and rob­beries around 2009. Protests were held in New Delhi, Sydney and Melbourne and an ex­trem­ist Hindu party burnt ef­fi­gies of the then-prime min­is­ter, Kevin Rudd. The num­ber of In­dian stu­dents seek­ing to study in Aus­tralia plunged by more than 40 per cent and the In­dian Government is­sued a travel ad­vi­sory af­ter the attacks, which in­cluded another 29-year-old be­ing set alight by a gang. The state­ment from In­dia’s for­eign min­istry said Turn­bull “ex­pressed shock at the killing and con­veyed that the mat­ter is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated”. The Queens­land po­lice have said Alisher’s killing does not ap­pear to have had a racial mo­ti­va­tion, but are con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate O’Dono­hue will ap­pear in court again next month.

Photo: Dan Peled/AAP

Mourn­ers at­tend a flo­ral trib­ute near the bus stop in Morooka, Bris­bane, where Man­meet Alisher died af­ter he was set alight.

The late Man­meet Alisher.

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