By Pallavi Sinha For SMH
A few hours before the brutal murder of Prabha Arun Kumar, the Australian-Indian community was celebrating the Hindu festival Holi with bright coloured dyes nearby. Later at Parramatta Park, Ms Kumar, a 41-year-old mother of one child, was stabbed to death while talking to her husband on the phone. One can only imagine the despair felt by her husband as he heard his beloved wife’s murdered while he was miles away in India.
Ms Kumar’s screams were also heard by 17-year-old Arvand Amirian. He went to help and found her face, neck and chest covered in blood. He was asked to do CPR until the ambulance arrived but she sadly died a short time after being taken to hospital.
The murder has shattered Australians, especially her family and Indian community and hit the headlines in India. It is reported that Ms Kumar was sending money home to her family and was due to go back to India after her work visa expired in June. She was returning from work and was a short distance from her home. No one deserves this sort of mistreatment and women should be able to safely travel home from work.
Police are investigating whether the murder of Ms Kumar was a targeted or random attack, but have said there was no reason to suggest it was a race-related attack or a targeted killing.
The number of Indian people migrating to Australia, especially students, reduced after the spate of attacks on Indian students around 2009 and 2010 which were reported by some as being racially motivated. India is the highest source of skilled migration to Australia, and Australia’s second highest source of international students with more than 40,000 currently studying here. Visitors to Australia from India are also increasing at an unprecedented rate.
Some reports indicate that the Indian community is the fastest growing ethnic community in Australia. Time will tell whether the numbers of Indians migrating to Australia will be affected by the recent murder of Ms Verma and recent attacks such as on an Indian student Manrajwinder Singh in Melbourne.
Waves of fear have spread among people living in the vicinity of Parramatta Park and they no longer feel safe to walk there. Concerns over lighting in the area and lack of safety for new migrants has been expressed to the police. I have experienced firsthand the danger at Parramatta Park. In 2012, my handbag, purse and car keys were stolen in broad daylight while I was attending a peaceful protest against the inhumane gang-rape of a young girl in India.
The United Indian Associations president John Kennedy and vice-president Jaydutt Nayak have visited Parramatta police station and posed questions to Premier Mike Baird and to Opposition Leader Luke Foley about security arrangements and safety measures.
The UIA has indicated that it will follow up this matter with the NSW government and will ask the government to take measures to place sign boards to warn people about the danger, light up the park area and other safety matters. A candle light vigil will be held memory of Ms Kumar. I have also suggested that some community organisations conduct community safety seminars.
One thing is clear, for a community that is divided on some issues, the Indian community is united in its shock and condemnation of Ms Kumar’s murder and dedicated to working with the government, police and community organisations to ensure that this never happens again.
Pallavi Sinha is a lawyer and adjunct lecturer at College of Law. She was also appointed to the former Indian Ministerial Consultative Committee