‘Jaw broken, girls harassed’: Indian students in Bishkek live in fear

However, many Indian students that TNIE had contacted expressed fear as locals were circulating hate messages on TikTok and other social media platforms.
Image used for representation
Image used for representation

HYDERABAD: Locked inside his university hostel at Kyrgyzstan’s capital — Bishkek, where the gates were shut and the lights were turned off by the administration so they could stay safe, a Telangana-based medical student, Fayzan, told TNIE on Saturday that although the violence was temporarily curbed, a mob had openly sent out a warning to the Indians and Pakistanis that there would be another attack in the night.

Image used for representation
India advises its students in Bishkek to stay indoors after mob violence

On the night of May 17, an angry mob of locals entered two universities in the capital city, broke the windows of the hostels and targeted foreign nationals, especially Indian and Pakistani nationals. “They attacked foreign students and misbehaved with girls. An acquaintance suffered a broken jaw and a few others sustained minor injuries,” said Fayzan.

Following the mob violence, the Indian embassy released a statement that the “situation is presently calm” and advised all students to stay indoors and contact the Mission in case of any problems.

However, many Indian students that TNIE had contacted expressed fear as locals were circulating hate messages on TikTok and other social media platforms. “The driver of a taxi I had previously travelled in sent me a video of the mob violence and threatened to beat me as well,” said a student from Uttar Pradesh.

While students living in university hostels shared that there were local police and Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) deployed outside the campus, those living in private accommodations do not have the same kind of security.

“Students living in flats have been asked to not step out of their accommodations. In case of an emergency, they have been advised to carry their visas and passports,” said a student from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, who did not want to be named. “However, that does not make any difference. The mob does not look into the passports before attacking,” his friend added.

The violence, which started following an alleged altercation between the locals and Egyptians on May 13, has led to a series of incidents where foreign nationals have been targeted.

“While university officials are ensuring that the students in campus are safe, those living outside the campus are demanding police security and provision of essentials,” said Dr Apurva, the national convenor of the All Indian Medical Students’ Association – Foreign Medical Students’ Wing (AIMSA-FMSW). Another member of the AIMSA-FMSW, Dr Vasundhara said, “We are concerned as we have been unable to reach out to a few of the Indian students. We are trying to keep in touch with as many students as possible and check in on their safety.”

Amidst the tense situation, the student from Uttar Pradesh told TNIE, “A couple of Indian students who stay elsewhere in the country, have left Kyrgyzstan fearing violence. They are not in Bishkek, but are afraid and have taken the road to leave the country.”

Even as the students are expecting that the situation would most likely be back to normal in a few days, they insist, “Only if the Indian government and agencies take a major action or put pressure on the Kyrgyzstan government, will the situation change. Else, we are worried that this might repeat.”

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