Samosas, sandwiches, Shane Warne at Indian picnic in Australia

Melbourne, March 2 - Spin bowler Shane Warne was mobbed by members of the Indian community Tuesday during an informal interaction at parliament house in the backdrop of the violence against Indian students here.

The food included samosas, sandwiches and curries. And the Indians were happy to interact with Shane Warne by taking his autograph, talking to him about the Indian Premier League (IPL) and getting a few tips on bowling.

Warne told the crowd: "It's important for me as a Victorian ... to keep building the relationship with India and Australia, and in particular Victoria."

"I want to listen, really, to hear what the students have to say and see what these guys, how they're feeling about things.

"I think the state sells itself, it's just such a great state, it's a great city to live in.

"I'll keep pushing the message across over there, I love India, I love Rajasthan when I play cricket there, so to me it was a natural thing," Australian news agency AAP quoted him as saying.

There has been a string of attacks on Indians in Australia, straining relations between Canberra and New Delhi.

One of the attacks proved fatal. Nitin Garg was fatally stabbed Jan 2 when he was walking on his way to work in Melbourne.

Nineteen-year-old student Shaan Ali said it was a good opportunity to build a bridge between the two communities, as many Indians and Australians had grown up with pictures of Warne on their bedroom walls.

"I think Warne is someone that the Indian community can definitely associate with because of his sporting prowess in cricket.

"And so as a key player and a star of that sport, he's definitely been the starting stone in creating that bridge," AAP quoted him as saying. (IANS)

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