Toddler’s death in Melbourne shocks India

New Delhi/Melbourne, March 5 (IANS) The body of a three-year-old Indian boy was found dumped by a roadside in Melbourne, Australia, triggering shock and outrage in India. New Delhi termed it a ‘most unfortunate incident’ as Canberra launched a major probe to determine the cause of the boy’s death.

Gurshan Singh Channa’s body was found on Wildwood Road, Oaklands Junction, of Melbourne Thursday night during a massive search mounted on a complaint by his parents, who were staying in Lalor on a holiday.

The boy disappeared from his suburban house while his mother was taking a shower. His body was found around six hours later.

An autopsy conducted by the Australian authorities could not establish the cause of death of Channa.

The incident came to light only a day after Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith ended his three-day visit to New Delhi, during which he reassured India about the Australian government’s commitment to ensure the security of 120,000 Indian students in his country.

The boy’s death sparked outrage in India with a combative opposition demanding an explanation. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) raised the issue immediately after the question hour in the Rajya Sabha.

‘We are yet to get details of this most unfortunate incident,’ External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told parliament.

‘There are no external injuries on the body’ and the cause of the death was yet to be determined, Krishna said.

‘We have asked the (Indian) consulate (in Melbourne) to contact the family. The consulate is ready to offer any assistance they might need,’ the minister added.

Condemning the toddler’s death, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called it a ‘brutal thing to happen’.

‘The death of any little child causes everyone in this country to stop, pause, think, reflect. If this is a case of murder, there is nothing worse, nothing worse, than the brutal murder of a little child,’ he said.

‘The authorities are investigating it. We are confident the authorities will get to the bottom of it,’ he added.

The Australian police are treating the incident as a ‘worst case’ and have deployed all available resources to probe the suspected homicide.

‘There is no visible signs of the cause of death,’ said Victoria Deputy Police Commissioner Sir Ken Jones. ‘At the moment we’re desperate for witnesses to come forward. We’re pretty convinced there’s people out there that may have seen something,’ said Jones. He added that the police have not yet determined if the boy’s death was an opportunistic crime or something else.

Victoria state premier John Brumby said he found the death of Gurshan Singh ‘personally distressing.’

Brumby, however, urged people not to speculate about the case. ‘What has occurred is an unthinkable tragedy. It’s deeply, deeply distressing,’ Brumby told reporters.

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