"people who come here often take things for granted"
An Indian man was arrested on January 19, 2020, after he allegedly kissed a two-year-old child in Sydney, Australia.
According to New South Wales Police, 28-year-old Nikhil Bhatia approached the toddler sitting in a pram during a visit to the Sea Life Aquarium in Darling Harbour at approximately 5 pm.
Following a brief interaction, he allegedly kissed the child on the lips before he was pushed away by one of the toddler’s parents.
Police have said that Bhatia did not know the child or his family.
The incident was reported to police and Bhatia was arrested. He was taken to Day Street Police Station where he was charged with intentionally sexually touching a child under 10 years.
On January 20, the Indian man appeared at Central Local Court where he flagged his intention to plead not guilty. He was later refused bail.
Bhatia arrived in Australia on a tourist visa and was due to leave on February 22. It was alleged that he told the boy’s parents: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Man in court on child sexual touching charges – Darling Harbour https://t.co/fCPx1lcrs7
— NSW Police Force (@nswpolice) January 19, 2020
His lawyer Sharon Ramsden had applied for bail, arguing that Bhatia’s actions were not necessarily sexual in nature.
Ms Ramsden said: “When assessing the seriousness, I don’t seek to downplay it.
“The conduct was spontaneous and in a public place. It was on the lower end of the spectrum – certainly below middle of the range.”
Bhatia is scheduled to appear in court again on February 4.
Melbourne-based lawyer Manwinder Singh explained that there needs to be an increase in legal awareness among Indian nationals, especially young students before they arrive in Australia.
Mr Singh said: “My message to young students arriving in Australia is that they all must have knowledge of the law in this country before their arrival.
“There are books available and a lot of reading material that can guide them on principles of the criminal and civil law.
“Sexual assault or for that matter any inappropriate behaviour is a punishable offence in India as well.”
“But people who come here often take things for granted because there is no family or parental influence to check such behaviour.
“Youngsters must not forget that they come here for a good life and indulging in such acts would only result in ruining their lives and careers because once they get a criminal record, they would not get a job and this might also have an impact on their visa status.”
If Bhatia is convicted, he faces a maximum jail term of 16 years.