Chief Commissioner Simon Overland’s herculean effort to initiate change in Victoria Police’s cultural outlook towards Indian students has been given a kick in the guts by Judge Gaynor.
As a County Court Judge she has given a youth a suspended sentence for participating in an intense series of attacks on Indians in Melbourne. He drove a gang of seven thugs who viciously assaulted six Indians over a four day period in 2009.
She heard testimonial evidence of the gang “Punji hunting”, a term coined by the goondas for hunting Indians. Despite this, and this is where you will think someone has spiked your chai with an Old Monk Patiala, she judged that the attacks were not racially motivated but simply they attacked Indians because they were perceived by the gang as “soft targets”.
This is not the forum but this where the reader can let loose with some chaste Punjabi abuse. I certainly did.
I believe Judge Gaynor may have got her law degree from a guy I know in Nizammudin market and then hit her head on a speeding rickshaw. I wouldn’t let this woman judge a Methodist Church cake baking competition never mind cases of grave violence.
Listen very carefully Gaynor. When a gang goes ‘Punji hunting’ it is racist. When a gang attacks people because they are perceived as “soft targets”, based on their race, it is racist!
I cannot convey the seriousness of this miscarriage of Justice. It is a near mortal blow to a hope that Police and students can work together.
I was asked to brief the Victorian Police high command, with student leader Dayajot Singh, during the massive Indian student protests in Melbourne. Chief Commissioner Overland was not what I expected. He looks like he will knock you out with the butt of his gun, shove you in a car boot and bury you under the West Gate Bridge in a shallow grave. But he proved to be highly sympathetic to the student’s plight and very international in his outlook.
In fact he became too sympathetic. On the morning he rang me to say he was calling a press conference to ensure the State Government finally accepted the fact that many of the attacks were racist, he swiftly allocated enormous resources to sensitive areas. Sunshine, with mounted police, circling helicopters and regular patrols, was reminiscent of the Indian President popping out for a curry.
All of this constructive effort was in the face of blistering personal attacks from the Indian media. But he soldiered on. He suffered terrible clashes with the State Labor Government who made billions of dollars annually from foreign students but couldn’t find it in themselves to spend a pittance on the most basic transport security or indeed to increase Police resources. Which was infuriating as the Government demanded that the Police protect those very students.
Overland’s greatest attribute has become a terrible weakness. The Chief Police commissioner has a code of honour that has no place in the seedy world of politics. During the high pressure days of the Indian student attacks it is hard to convey how intensely he was besieged by a rabid media, both Australian and Indian. That code ensured he refrained from telling the media the litany of sexual assault cases perpetrated by the student community. Recently that code has ensured he has refused to bring internal Police politics in to the gutter, putting his job in mortal danger.
This positive attitude gave impetus to policies that embraced multiculturalism despite been wholly unfairly painted as a 1970’s South African death squad commander. I will never forget his heartfelt reply to a South Indian student who, on the verge of tears, at the Flinders Street protest confessed to not knowing if Australians wanted him in the country. ‘I want you here son’.
Indeed, contrary to popular belief, Victoria police led by Overland have made a herculean effort to apprehend a great number of perpetrators of attacks on students. Despite a lingering racism that still fouls Australian society of which Police are members of.
But now this.
What cop is going to even bother to take a report from a bleeding Indian student when he knows with certainty that the Judiciary are just like them but only more so?