Why Kyrgyzstan hostels housing Indian, Pakistani students were targeted

Last Updated on May 18, 2024 4:07 pm

By Abhishek De

Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, has been on the boil over the last couple of days, with violent mobs targeting hostels housing students from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Three Pakistani students have been reportedly killed in the violence, prompting Islamabad and New Delhi to issue advisories for its nationals in Kyrgyzstan.

Local reports said the violence erupted following a brawl at a hostel between locals and foreign students, including Pakistanis and Egyptians. A video of the fight, which allegedly happened on May 13, went viral on social media and the violence spilt onto the streets of Bishkek.

Locals started gathering on the streets on Friday in protest over alleged lenient treatment of foreigners involved in the fight, according to a report in the Times of Central Asia. However, police said three foreigners were detained on suspicion of hooliganism.

It soon turned into a free-for-all as mobs targeted hostels of medical universities housing students from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Pakistan’s Aaj News reported that women students were harassed, and several students were injured.

However, Pakistan’s Embassy in Bishkek said it has not received any reports of any deaths yet and asked its students to “stay indoors until the situation returns to normal”.

“A few hostels of medical universities in Bishkek and private residences of international students, including Pakistanis, have been attacked. There have been reports of light injuries to a number of students from Pakistan,” the Pakistan embassy said.

“Despite social media posts about the alleged death and rape of Pakistani students, so far, we have not received any confirmed reports,” it further said.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the situation was “calm” in Bishkek and advised students to stay in regular touch with the Indian Embassy.

“The situation is presently calm, but students are advised to stay indoors for the moment,” the Indian Consulate tweeted.

Meanwhile, videos of the clashes have flooded social media since Friday night.

In one such viral video, three students are seen narrating the harrowing situation. One of the students said mobs started attacking international students after a fight between locals and Egyptian students. He said six students were killed even though he did not specify their nationalities. He also claimed that the police were not helping the international students.

The Kyrgyzstan government said the situation was stable and police had negotiated with the protesters to stave off any confrontation.

The recent developments appear to reflect tensions in the Central Asian country over the increasing inflow of migrants from South Asia and Russia.

Kyrgyzstan has long been a favoured destination for students from South Asian nations for top-notch medical training. As per the Migration Data Portal, Kyrgyzstan hosted the highest number of international students (61,418) in 2021 among the five Central Asian countries.

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