Strong Hands of the Law
The Frontline of a newspaper circulated daily attracted my attention when travelling on the Melbourne metro railway on 28th July. The news carried a story regarding a trial under new racial vilification laws. Three men accused of racially taunting an Indian student in a bus heading to Portsea on the 2nd of February this year will be the first to face trial in court. The news further quoted Premier John Brumby saying, “Those laws are there. We put them in place and are being applied”. Victoria Police said the vilification charges should send a strong message to the community that racist behaviour would not be tolerated.
This news reminded me of an incident that happened to me a few days back. It was out of just a parking dispute that a serious matter was before Police as a complaint. One evening, I was with a very close friend to shop at Kmart, a shopping place in the Burwood suburb of Melbourne that we faced very humiliating words full of anger and insulting tones. It was raining outside, and as it was late evening, darkness was making things a little bit foggy and invisible. We just parked our car, and there was a young lady full of anger shouting at us with comments pointing at our being Indians. She was not behaving normally, and there is the possibility of being under the effect of some intoxication. She was saying that we parked the car and she was waiting for another side for parking. We did not saw her car as there was another car in front of us. Rather than saying anything politely, she was bent on creating a big scene over there. Despite all provocation, we just managed to be calm and cool. We just tried to call the police and noted down her car number. She went after a few minute’s bursts of anger and abuse on us.
As new in Melbourne, I felt really hurt, like having no status in this country. As an Indian, I felt all pain that many Indians feel out of the racist incidents that happened in the near past. Australia is a democratic country. People of many nationalities are living there for centuries. A prosperous developed country with a multicultural society, Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance such as human development, quality of life, health care, life expectancy, public education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights. But this small incident created a big question in our minds.
The feeling of insecurity that we felt that time could have turned into a hard impression on our minds if the timely action of Sergeant Peter Bracken has not resolved the issue with his wise and effective handling. After the incident with all heavy heart, we decided to complain. We went to Oakleigh Police Station, where we met Mr Peter Bracken, who ultimately handled the issue resulting in a confession from that lady about her mistake, and she was made sorry for her act. The matter was resolved with the right counselling by Peter Bracken.
Law still has strong arms to deal with any situation. Mr Peter represented that strength of law in our incident, and this news of trial in vilification case added a lot to people’s faith in the Australian system. I am pleased to say that we are moving in the right direction to make Australia a safe place.
(This article was written in 2010, so the dates mentioned belong to that year.)