Bachchan shuns Australia honor

Bollywood superstar protests violence against Indian students

MUMBAI -- Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan has turned down an honorary doctorate from an Australian university to protest a recent spate of attacks on Indian students studying there.

The attacks, which Indian media have called raced-based, have caused some diplomatic discomfort, with the Indian government summoning the Australian ambassador last week to convey its concern and urge action.

The prime ministers of the two countries also discussed the attacks that have dominated newspaper and television headlines in India during the past week.

Bachchan, arguably India's biggest superstar, said in a blog post on Saturday he would not accept the honor from the Queensland University of Technology, a decision he said he took after consulting readers of his blog.

"My conscience is profoundly unsettled at the moment and there seems to be a moral disjuncture between the suffering of these students and my own approbation," Bachchan, 66, wrote in a letter to the university which he posted on his blog.

"Under the prevailing circumstances I find it inappropriate at this juncture, to accept this decoration."

Four Indian students were attacked with a screwdriver by a gang at a Melbourne party last weekend. One of the victims remains in hospital with serious injuries.

Another Indian student was attacked in what appeared to be a robbery, and there were three other attacks in early May, including two on Indian taxi drivers.
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