Centre's Firefight After Foreign Students In Gujarat Attacked Over Namaz

Ahmedabad city police commissioner GS Malik said an FIR has been registered and nine teams formed to investigate the matter

A mob allegedly attacked international students offering namaz inside their hostel at Gujarat University


Five international students were injured after a mob stormed a Gujarat University hostel last night and attacked students from African countries, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, allegedly for offering namaz on the campus.  

Hours after state home minister Harsh Sanghavi reportedly spoke with Gujarat's top police officers and directed them to ensure a fair probe, Ahmedabad Police arrested two individuals in connection with the case. The Ministry of External Affairs has said it is in touch with the Gujarat government and strict action will be taken against those who attacked the international students.

The students have said that there is no mosque on the Ahmedabad-based campus, so they had gathered inside the hostel to offer taraweeh - a namaz offered at night during Ramadan. Soon after, a mob armed with sticks and knives stormed the hostel, attacked them and vandalised their rooms, the students have alleged. The students have said the security guard of the hostel tried to stop the mob, but failed.

A student from Afghanistan said people in the mob raised slogans and asked them who had allowed them to offer namaz in the hostel. "They attacked us inside the rooms too. They broke laptops, phones and damaged bikes," he said.

The student said the five injured students include one each from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Turkmenistan and two from African countries. "The mob fled when the police arrived. The injured students are in hospital and have informed the embassies."

Visuals shared on social media showed damaged bikes, broken laptops and ravaged rooms. In some of the visuals, people are seen throwing stones at the hostel and hurling abuses at the overseas students. In the visuals, the international students are heard saying that they are "scared" and that "this is unacceptable".

In one of the videos, a youngster in the mob is heard asking a security guard, "Why are they offering namaz, is this the place?" At this point, a student screams, approaches the youngster and attacks him. Some users on social media have claimed this triggered the mob violence.

Hyderabad MP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi has slammed the incident and asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah will intervene.

"What a shame. When your devotion and religious slogans only come out when Muslims peacefully practice their religion. When you become unexplainably angry at the mere sight of Muslims. What is this, if not mass radicalisation? This is the home state of @AmitShah & @narendramodi, will they intervene to send a strong message? I am not holding my breath. @DrSJaishankar domestic anti-Muslim hatred is destroying India's goodwill," he said in a post on X.

"About 300 overseas students study here. They are from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and African countries. Some of them were offering namaz on the terrace yesterday. Some people came and asked why they were doing so and that they should offer namaz at a mosque. This led to a heated exchange and a fight. The outsiders then threw stones and vandalised the hostel rooms," Ahmedabad city police commissioner GS Malik said.

The senior officer said police reached the spot soon after they received a call. "We have formed nine teams and investigate this. We have identified one person. A complaint has been received against 20-25 people and an FIR registered. We will scan the videos doing the rounds. We will take strict action against those involved," he said, adding that the situation is under control. 

Gujarat University Vice-Chancellor Dr Neerja A Gupta told the media that there was some tension between those in the mob and some overseas students, and yesterday's events led to an escalation. "The matter is under police investigation now," she said.

Dr Gupta said that since these students are from overseas, they need to be trained in "cultural sensitivity". "These are foreign students and when you go abroad, you must learn cultural sensitivity. These students need an orientation. We will sit with them, provide cultural orientation and discuss how to strengthen their security."

The Ministry of External Affairs has said the Gujarat government is taking strict action against those who attacked the international students. "An incidence of violence took place at Gujarat University in Ahmedabad yesterday. State government is taking strict action against the perpetrators. Two foreign students were injured in the clash. One of them has been discharged from hospital after receiving medical attention. MEA is in touch with Gujarat government," MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in a post on X.