Indians in Australia seek apology from government
Jul 29, 2007 - 10:43:16 AM

Sydney, July 29 - The 230,000-strong Indian Australian community has been relieved that justice has finally prevailed as Muhammad Haneef was on his way home, though it has demanded an apology from the government for the Indian doctor's 25-day incarceration before terror charges against him were dropped.

The United Indian Association - and the Overseas and Australian Medical Graduates Association - have asked the government to apologise to the Indian community in print and electronic media without any further delay to ensure that there will be no snowballing effect of the backlash on the community.

UIA president Raj Natarajan said, 'I think the recent developments involving the dropping of charges against Dr. Haneef has to a large extent vindicated the views of UIA and OAMGA and their call for the rule of law to prevail and Dr. Haneef is given a fair go.'

Referring to the demand, he added: 'This is not too much to ask of the government which boasts that they are the custodians of the great traditions of democracy. Many political pundits around the world are questioning the intentions of the government and rightly so.'

So what effect will this case have on the standing of the Indian doctors in the mainstream Australian society?

Natarajan said: 'I think the healing process would now be faster and the Australian people are intelligent enough to sort the good from the bad.

'Having said that, the government should not only apologise to the Indian community in general but to the Indian doctors in particular for the effect this bungled episode has had on the community.'

OAMGA president V.R. Nagamma said: 'With respect to recent developments on the Haneef case, we as the Indian community along with the doctor fraternity believe that justice has prevailed.

'Both the AFP - and DPP - have done their job in an appropriate manner and the outcome has been positive.'

Meanwhile, civil libertarians say any inquiry into the bungled prosecution of Haneef should focus squarely on the actions of Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock and Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has been a strong critic of the way Haneef's case was handled from the beginning and is again calling for a senate inquiry into the matter.

Beattie told the media: 'I got my share of criticism, being attacked by the prime minister, two other federal ministers, including Alexander Downer. I had Mick Keelty, the federal police commissioner, give me a swipe on the way through.

'But in the end, I didn't do it for any reason other than I feel a personal responsibility to look after Queensland's interests.'

The Labour party has called for a judicial review of the DPP, while the Greens say there should be a royal commission.

The 27-year-old doctor from Bangalore was held on July 2 at Brisbane airport, just as he was about to fly to India, on the charge of passing his mobile phone SIM card to a cousin in Britain who has been held for the failed terror plots in London and Glasgow last month.

Following contradictions in the case against him, Australian authorities cleared him of any involvement in the terror plots and he took a flight home Saturday evening.

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