Updated May 18th, 2024 at 21:00 IST

How Kyrgyzstan Hostels Housing Indian, Pakistani Students Came Under Attack

A video of a group of locals fighting foreign students reportedly led to the violent attack on hostels housing Indian and Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Over a dozen people were reportedly injured as a result of the violence in Kyrgyzstan. | Image:Republic
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New Delhi: On the intervening night of May 17-18, several related incidents of violence were reported from Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan as hundreds of locals allegedly attacked hostels housing Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi students. Local reports suggest the mob indulged in vandalism and violence against any foreign students it encountered at the hostels, with Radio Free Europe reporting that more than a dozen students were injured during scattered riots. 

While the violence was eventually brought under control with the deployment of riot police, both the Indian and Pakistani governments issued advisories calling on students from their respective countries to stay indoors and in regular contact with their local embassies. 

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What led to this outbreak of violence?

A number of local media reports have cited a widely circulated video as being the core cause of this violence. The video supposedly shows local youths, allegedly from Egypt, clashing with foreign students. AKI Press put out a report detailing the sequence of events that led up to the violence, citing information provided by the Kyrgyz Ministry of Internal Affairs. 

According to the report, the video at the centre of the clashes shows an incident that took place on May 13 when a group of locals encountered foreign students near a pizzeria in Bishkek. The interaction between the two groups quickly turned into an argument as one side asked for cigarettes and the other started contesting over smoking in the area, 

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As the situation took a confrontational turn, the group of foreign students fled to their hostel, all the while being chased by the locals. The group of locals not only attacked students in the hostel but also, reportedly, robbed them of their belongings.

The situation further escalated when the foreign students retaliated against the attack, leading to a brawl where several people, including one of the attackers, were injured.

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Subsequently, four foreign students were detained by the local police in connection with the incident and two of the four locals involved in the attack were identified.

The video of the incident –  captured on CCTV – has since been doing rounds on social media, though it doesn't provide relevant context. 

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The widespread circulation of the video, in turn, sparked massive public outrage, with locals being furious over the deemed disproportionate response of the police in favour of the foreigners. Misinformation about the attack further fuelled the fire and led to violent mobs attacking hostels housing foreign medical students. 

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Several students were injured as a result with unconfirmed rumours of three Pakistani students being killed and several women being raped. The claims, however, were later denied by the Pakistani consulate which said it had not received any confirmed report in this regard. 

The entire incident also reflects increased tensions in Kyrgyzstan over migrants, local publication The Times of Central Asia noted, citing a recent report by Kaktus Media about a Ministry of Internal Affairs raid that uncovered over 400 foreign students illegally working in delivery services.  

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The report notes that most of these violators are students from Bangladesh and Pakistan and that law enforcement agencies have become more proactive in cracking down on such violations. 

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Published May 18th, 2024 at 20:33 IST