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Indian student raped, killed in Australia, body put in suitcase

14 March, 2011

Sydney/New Delhi, (IANS) A 24-year-old Indian student was raped and murdered and her body stuffed into a suitcase in Australia's Sydney city. Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Monday described the incident as "unfortunate".

Tosha Thakkar, a student of Sydney College of Business and IT, was raped and murdered and her body was found packed into a suitcase in a canal in Sydney last week.

In New Delhi, Krishna said: "This is a very, very unfortunate incident. We are getting a report from our ambassador."

"We are closely following and monitoring the investigation."

There has been a string of attacks on Indians in Australia during the past two years, sparking an outrage in India. One of the attacks proved fatal when Nitin Garg was killed in Melbourne in January last year. A large number of Indian students are pursuing various courses in Australia.

Daniel Stani-Reginald, 19, an Australian of Sri Lankan descent, has been arrested and charged with the murder and aggravated sexual assault on Thakkar.

The Age quoted the police as saying the "predator" had waited until her housemate was away to sexually assault and kill her.

Thakkar's body was found Friday morning in a canal behind the Meadowbank Park in northwestern Sydney. It had been stuffed into a large, black, cloth suitcase.

The case was mentioned briefly in the Burwood Local Court Monday.

Stani-Reginald is alleged to have murdered Thakkar last Wednesday. He was arrested Friday night and charged for Thakkar's murder, the media report said.

About 20 friends and family members of Thakkar, who had been living in Australia to study accounting, turned up at the court Monday.

"We are very upset, of course, and are just waiting to get justice ASAP. She was very nice, the type that got along with everybody and she didn't deserve this, such a painful death," The Age quoted a friend as saying outside the court.

Pamela Young, a police official, said Thakkar was a respectful young woman and did not deserve this at all.

Young said Thakkar's parents had not yet made plans to come to Australia and police hoped to return her body to India for a proper Hindu funeral service.

"I understand her father is very ill," she was quoted as saying.

Niralee, a cousin of Thakkar, said the victim was "a lovely human being" who was too young to die.

"No human being should ever deserve something like this," she said.

In January this year, Australian High Commissioner to India Peter N. Varghese had said the safety of Indian students in Australia is an issue that is "behind us". Varghese said the Australian government had taken a series of measures which had led to "things being a lot calmer than they were 12 months ago".

"Look, I think that the issue of safety of Indian students is behind us really. We have taken a series of measures at federal government level, state government level and in relation to our police forces," Varghese told IANS in an interview.

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