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18 May, 2024 13:31

Indian, Pakistani students in former Soviet state get ‘stay indoors’ notice

New Delhi and Islamabad have issued warnings to their nationals in Kyrgyzstan after clashes between locals and foreign students
Indian, Pakistani students in former Soviet state get ‘stay indoors’ notice

New Delhi and Islamabad on Saturday advised their students in Kyrgyzstan not to venture out from campus accommodation, amid reports of mob violence in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The Central Asian country is a popular destination for higher studies among students from South Asia. 

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Kyrgyz capital demanding action against foreigners who were reportedly involved in a dispute with locals during the week. Following a brawl, rumors spread on social media and appear to have led to major public unrest, local media reported. 

Scores of men gathered on Friday night in front of where an incident is said to have occurred, an accommodation center, with some claming they “wanted to deal with the foreigners,” news agency 24.kg reported. Reinforced police units arrived at the scene and detained about ten persons. Meanwhile, three Egyptian citizens allegedly involved in the original incident, which occurred on Monday, were detained by the Bishkek Central Internal Affairs Directorate. 

Police negotiated with the protesters in order to head off any confrontations and the crowd dispersed early Saturday, with the Ministry of Internal Affairs describing the situation as stable. As many as 29 people were said to have been injured in the brawls, with 15 hospitalized and later released.

On Saturday, Islamabad’s Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Hasan Zaigham held a meeting with Kyrgyz Deputy Foreign Minister Imangaziev Almaz to convey concerns about the safety of his country’s students, the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). The Kyrgyz government confirmed that no Pakistani students had died in the skirmishes, as had earlier been disseminated in unverified reports in some media.

Amid the ongoing tensions, India’s embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic said it had gotten in touch with its students and asked them to stay indoors. They were instructed to reach out to the embassy through a contact number if they faced any problems. The post attracted responses from several Indian students, at least one of whom expressed concern at a “scary” situation.

The Kyrgyz government in a statement on Saturday strongly condemned “attempts to provoke violence and unrest on ethnic grounds,” citing rumors that had spread on social media. It also refuted “false reports by the international press” about alleged murders and violence against foreign students. 

Law enforcement agencies are conducting a thorough investigation of all circumstances and suspected offenses, and those responsible will be identified and held accountable in accordance with the law, the statement noted. It also underscored that over the past several months the country’s authorities have been taking “decisive measures to curb illegal migration” and to “deport undesirable individuals,” while adding that “any insinuations aimed at inciting intolerance towards foreign students are unacceptable and do not align with the spirit of friendship and hospitality for which our people have always been known.”

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