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Why are Indian and Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan under attack?

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Protesters gathered in large numbers in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, after a clash on May 13 between locals and international students at a hostel. According to local media reports, some demonstrators obstructed traffic and vandalized buildings, resulting in several arrests by security forces.

Kyrgyzstan is a popular destination for education, especially in the medical field. It attracts many students from the Indian subcontinent, including India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. As of April 2023, around 9,500 students are enrolled in medical universities in Kyrgyzstan, according to a government report.

The situation escalated after videos of a fight between Kyrgyz and Egyptian students on May 13 went viral online, the Pakistan embassy noted. The mob targeted hostels of medical universities in Bishkek, where students from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh reside.

Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed “deep concerns” about the situation in Bishkek. He has instructed the country’s envoy to “provide all necessary help and assistance” to the students.

“Deeply concerned over the situation of Pakistani students in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I have directed Pakistan’s Ambassador to provide all necessary help and assistance. My office is also in touch with the Embassy and constantly monitoring the situation,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Some social media posts claimed that three Pakistani students were killed in the attack. However, the government has not received any reports of fatalities.

“So far, a few hostels of medical universities in Bishkek and private residences of international students, including Pakistanis, have been attacked. The hostels are inhabited by students from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. There have been reports of light injuries to several students from Pakistan,” the Pakistan consulate in Kyrgyzstan stated on X.

“Despite social media posts about alleged death and rape of Pakistani students, so far, we have not received any confirmed report,” it added.

Indian students in Kyrgyzstan

Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar stated on Saturday that the Indian government is monitoring the welfare of Indian students in Bishkek amidst the violence targeting international students.

In a post on X, Jaishankar wrote, “Monitoring the welfare of Indian students in Bishkek. The situation is reportedly calm now. Strongly advise students to stay in regular touch with the Embassy.”

The Indian embassy in Kyrgyzstan advised students to “stay indoors” and is in contact with them. “We are in touch with our students,” the embassy stated. “The situation is presently calm, but students are advised to stay indoors for the moment and get in touch with the Embassy in case of any issues.”

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