Australia condemned Friday as "deeply offensive" an Indian newspaper cartoon that depicted an Australian police officer as a member of the Klu Klux Klan.

The cartoon, published Tuesday in New Delhi's Mail Today, satirizes Victoria state homicide detectives for saying there is no evidence the recent stabbing murder of a 21-year-old Indian-born Australian resident in Melbourne was racially motivated.

The murder prompted the Indian government to warn of a diplomatic rift unless Australia took stronger action to protect Indian nationals. There has been a highly publicized spate of street violence against Indian students in recent months in Melbourne, Australia's second largest city.

Australian police say that while some attacks on Indians are racially motivated, many are ordinary crimes.

The cartoon, which bears the caption "Indian killed in Australia," shows a figure in a white robe wearing a police badge. The figure is saying, "We are yet to ascertain the nature of the crime."

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard, a Melbourne resident, said the cartoon suggested Australia was not doing enough to solve the murder.

"Any suggestion of that kind is deeply, deeply offensive to the police officers involved and I would absolutely condemn the making of a comment like that," Gillard told reporters.

Police union leader Greg Davies, secretary of Victoria's Police Association, said the cartoon was "highly offensive" to homicide detectives.

"Cartoons in Australia are normally done by people who are either clever or witty and this one's neither," he said.

"All it does is stir racial hatred among Indians, certainly in India and, one would imagine, some of them here," he added.

Indian enrollments in Australian colleges this year have fallen following months of Indian media reports of racist violence in Australia.