|Morrison said the idea that he had blood on his hands was "absurd". "The buck stops here when it comes to these decisions, and I'm going to take decisions that I believe are going to protect Australia from a third wave," he said. (File photo by=AP)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Australia's prime minister fended off accusations of racism and having blood on his hands on Tuesday (May 4), as he retreated from a threat to jail Australians trying to escape COVID-19-wracked India, AFP reported.
Scott Morrison's government moved to ban travelers from India from entering Australia until May 15, threatening rule-breakers - including Australian citizens - with prison time. Amid a widespread backlash, Morrison on Tuesday said that it was "highly unlikely" that Australians who skirted a ban would be jailed. About 9,000 Australians are believed to be in India, where hundreds of thousands of new coronavirus cases are being detected every day and the death toll is soaring.
Among those trapped are some of Australia's most high-profile sporting stars - cricketers playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League. Commentator and former Test cricket star Michael Slater were among those who pilloried Morrison's decision as a "disgrace". The decision came into force on Monday and was denounced by rights groups and some of Morrison's most prominent allies including Sky News commentator Andrew Bolt who said it "stinks of racism". Additionally, Australia has largely avoided the worst of the pandemic, through some of the strictest border controls in the world. There’s a blanket ban on travel to and from the country unless an exemption is secured.