Bollywood union boycotts Australia over attacks

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Jun 4, 2009 at 1:12 PM EDT

Bollywood's biggest labour union said Thursday its members would refuse to work in Australia until attacks on Indian students there ceased.

Two Bollywood movies - including one by Bollywood's largest producer, Yash Raj Films -- were to be shot in Australia this month.

"None of our associate members will work in Australia until the racism issue is resolved," Dinesh Chaturvedi, head of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE).

FWICE, which represents 250,000 workers, including actors, lighting and sound technicians, camera operators and dancers, issued a notice to all Bollywood producers announcing the boycott.

It was the latest snub by Bollywood over a wave of assaults on Indian students which have strained diplomatic relations between India and Australia.

Last weekend, Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan rejected an honorary doctorate from a Brisbane university, in protest against the attacks on Indian students.

Three recent Bollywood box-office hits -- Salaam Namaste (Greetings), Chak de India (Go India) and Heyy Baby -- were shot extensively in Australia.

The union's announcement came a day after another attack on an Indian student was reported in Australia.

Police said a 21-year-old Indian student was confronted Tuesday by five men in a college campus car park in the suburbs of the southern city of Melbourne, where many of the attacks have taken place.

They demanded money and cigarettes from the man, then attacked him when he refused to comply, with one slashing him across the chest with a weapon believed to be a box cutter, causing minor lacerations.

The issue came to world attention late last month when student Sravan Kumar Theerthala was left comatose after being stabbed with a screwdriver by gatecrashers at a Melbourne party.

Many of the most serious cases occurred in Melbourne, where police estimate Indians account for about 30 percent of all robbery and assault victims.

India's media have dubbed the attacks "curry bashing," and newspapers have been splashed with headlines such as "Australia, land of racists."

The Australian government has called in the former head of Australia's elite Special Air Service (SAS) regiment to lead a task force examining the attacks.




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