A student of Indian origin in Tasmania, Australia has been placed in a medically induced coma following an assault. The incident has led to the arrest of a suspect, who has been charged with criminal assault, as reported by the media reports.
The student is in his 20s, pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Tasmania, and is currently in a medically induced coma. The incident occurred on November 5 at a precinct in Tasmania. According to reports from Sydney-based Special Broadcasting Service, the victim experienced ‘extra-jural bleeding,’ resulting in a shift in his brain.
Following the incident, the victim underwent a lengthy brain surgery as his right lung collapsed, according to reports. Benjamin Dodge Collings, a 25-year-old resident of Lenah Valley, was apprehended by the police shortly after that.
He has been charged with criminal code assault, an offence that could lead to a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison. Collings was granted magistrate bail and is set to appear in court on December 4 to address multiple charges, including assault, providing a false address and name, resisting a police officer, and unrelated driving offences.
The Media Director of the University of Tasmania, Ben Wild, confirmed the institution’s awareness of the incident. When questioned about the steps taken to support the student during this challenging period, Wild mentioned that the university has maintained regular communication with the family. They have also assigned a complex case manager, along with translators, and liaison personnel, and provided accommodation and other necessary support.
Regarding the legal proceedings, Wild noted, “The case has gone through the court system as well, and we are very limited in what we can say.”
Community concerns have emerged following the incident. According to reports citing the victim’s friends, there are worries as the family in Assam lacks passports to travel to Australia. Despite the severity of the victim’s condition, the police have indicated that there is no evidence to suggest that the assault was racially motivated, as reported by the media.
Residents have expressed frustration, particularly in light of the victim’s critical condition and the fact that the charged individual has been granted bail. Germanjit Singh Gill, a resident, reportedly voiced concerns on the ‘Indians in Tasmania’ Facebook group, seeking community support for the victim.
Gill’s statement in the Facebook group states, “The person charged has been set out on bail, whereas the poor man is fighting for his life.” He added, “Someone assaulted our brother for no reason, and we can’t even ask questions? We are harnessing community support to help the victim.”
Tajrin Jahan Hussain, currently leading a campaign to raise awareness about the incident and its aftermath, highlighted that similar occurrences take place on weekends in Tasmania but often go unreported. Expressing efforts to connect with the victim’s family, Hussain mentioned, “I have been trying to get in touch with the victim’s family but haven’t been able to do so.” The entire community is reportedly concerned and disheartened, as stated by Tajrin Jahan Hussain, a resident of Hobart.
Professor Ian Anderson, the university’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), has issued an official statement to SBS Hindi, asserting their commitment to providing support.
The Professor emphasised the university’s dedication to the well-being of all students and highlighted the existence of various programs and services, including the Safe and Fair Community Unit, aimed at ensuring the safety of individuals on campus. Additionally, the university offers advice and support to students regarding their safety when they are off campus.
Hriti Jerath, a third-year media student from Monash University, has expressed the belief that both universities and communities should increase efforts in raising awareness about such incidents. She commented, “Well, it is upsetting to see very little discussion around such incidents. It really is.”