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A night of horrors in Kyrgyz capital for Bangladeshis, S Asian students


Published : 18 May 2024 10:53 PM | Updated : 19 May 2024 01:59 PM

Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani students have reportedly come under attack by violent mobs in Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek.

Pakistan's mission in Bishkek said a few hostels of medical universities in Bishkek, where students from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan reside, have been attacked amid the violence, which broke out on Friday night.

The Kyrgyz government said four foreign citizens have been arrested following mob violence in Bishkek on the night of May 17-18 that injured at least 28 people, including several foreigners, and appeared to be directed against foreign students and migrants.

The violence prompted diplomatic reactions from Pakistan and India, who have warned their students in Bishkek to remain indoors.

The violence broke out after a video purportedly showing Kyrgyz students fighting medical students from Egypt on May 13 was widely shared online, according to Radio Free Europe.

Mobs gathered in several spots in Bishkek on Friday night after users on social media claimed those who were beaten were Kyrgyz youths.

On Saturday, a number of Bangladeshi students reached out to UNB seeking help for their safety.

“We are here, five Bangladeshi girls. We are inside our apartment right now. Some people are gathering in front of our apartment. Please help us," Samia Kabir, one of the Bangladeshi students at International School of Medicine, Kyrgyzstan, told UNB on Saturday evening.

"We have been asked by the authorities to stay inside. We hear some noises from other apartments nearby…some Pakistanis are likely to be there," Samia added.

"Our mission in Uzbekistan is looking into the matter. So far, we have not received any reports of injuries of any Bangladeshis. We are in touch with our Mission. We will share a complete report soon," a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka told UNB.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic in a statement said that at present the situation in Bishkek is "absolutely calm and fully under control".

"All necessary measures have been taken to ensure security and maintain peace and stability," it said.

It also asked representatives of the media, the blogging community and foreign colleagues to be guided only by official and verified information from the competent authorities of the Kyrgyz Republic.

One of the students, named Mustafa, who is living a bit far from the main city, told UNB that the number of Bangladeshi students is now over 1000 in Kyrgyzstan.

He said they are relatively safer where he is than those who are living in Bishkek.

In some cases, students from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan live in the same hostels, putting them at risk together.

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.

Videos of the clashes have flooded social media since Friday night.

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.

There are multiple reasons why students flock to Kyrgyzstan, which has the best healthcare, education, and transportation facilities among Central Asian nations.

Cheap cost of living, wide availability of Subcontinental cuisine, a good student-teacher ratio, and no entrance fees are some of the facilities that attract MBBS students.

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