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'What if It Happens Again?' Indian, Pak Students After Mob Attack in Kyrgyzstan

Local residents allegedly targeted international students, particularly those from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

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"A mob of around 200-300 locals gathered and attacked the hostels of foreign students, targeting any international student they encountered," said Kashif Shaikh, a 23-year-old Indian medical student in Bishkek, describing the violence that broke out in the capital of Kyrgyzstan last week.

On the intervening night of Friday, 17 May, and Saturday, 18 May, local residents allegedly targeted international students, particularly those from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, after a viral video purportedly showed Kyrgyz students in a brawl with Egyptian and Pakistani medical students.

Reports stated that several students were injured in the mob attack, with eyewitnesses claiming that many women students were harassed by the locals. 

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Saturday advised students to stay indoors and contact the embassy if needed. 

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar took to X to state that the MEA is monitoring the situation. "Monitoring the welfare of Indian students in Bishkek. Situation is reportedly calm now. Strongly advise students to stay in regular touch with the Embassy."

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'Violence Went on From 12 am to 4 am'

On 13 May, a video that purportedly showed Kyrgyz students fighting Egyptian and Pakistani medical students went viral online. The footage caused crowds to gather in Bishkek after many claimed on social media that the people who were beaten were young Kyrgyz citizens.

The locals allegedly attacked the hostels and residences of international students – and reports stated the violence continued for several hours. 

"This [the violence] went on from around 12 am to 4 am," Kashif Shaikh told The Quint, adding that many students stayed in their rooms and were "terrified by the violence that unfolded before their eyes."

"My friends and classmates are severely injured and are admitted to the hospital. Some suffered jaw injuries, while many of them got their limbs fractured," he further alleged.
Local residents allegedly targeted international students, particularly those from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Broken glass doors at a hostel in Bishkek.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Shaikh, who will complete his MBBS course in the next two years, told The Quint: "I am afraid to live in the same city for two more years. Who will guarantee that this will not happen again?" 

Janita Dildar, a 20-year-old Pakistani student pursuing an MBBS at the International Medical University in Bishkek, termed the incident a "horrible experience." She alleged that the locals broke into the dorms of international students, harassed the women, and physically assaulted the men.

"The locals demolished the hostels and shattered the glass doors," she alleged.

Reportedly, the locals also threatened international students, especially those from India and Pakistan, on social media platforms like WhatsApp. "I wish you to leave this country faster, it will not seem enough to you now, in the evenings we will punish you harshly," a WhatsApp message sent to Dildar from an unknown number purportedly read.

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'Govt Needs To Ensure Our Kids' Safety'

The incident has raised serious concerns about the safety of foreign students in Kyrgyzstan, a popular destination for medical education, particularly among students from South Asia. With 14,500 Indian students residing in the country, anxious parents like Abdul Mujeeb are urging the Indian government to take immediate action. 

"This violence has left everyone scared. The government needs to ensure our children's safety and bring them back if the situation worsens," Mujeeb told The Quint

Universities in Bishkek have reportedly suspended classes or have shifted to online mode in light of the violence. This comes just weeks before the end-semester exams.

A former medical student from Kyrgyzstan, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that this was not an isolated incident. "Foreign students have faced harassment from locals before, including beatings and theft at night," he alleged. "The university management seems aware but hasn't taken action."

The Kyrgyz Ministry of Internal Affairs, meanwhile, claimed that the situation was under control, while the country's Health Ministry reported treating over 30 people injured in the violence. 

The Pakistani government condemned the attacks and pledged assistance to their students in Kyrgyzstan.

Janita Dildar told The Quint the university management was arranging the flights so the students could be safely sent to their homes.

According to the ARY News, around 180 Pakistani students landed in Lahore from Kyrgyzstan on May 19. However, no Indian students have been brought home so far.

(Aqib Nazir is a freelance journalist who writes on environment and human rights issues. Azib Ahmad is a freelance journalist who focuses on environmental, politics and culture, and is currently studying at AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Kyrgyzstan 

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