Indian university asks Muslim foreign students not to pray in common spaces after Hindu mob attack

Foreign students were attacked on Sunday by a mob after they objected to students offereing prayers on campus   (Gujarat University/Facebook)
Foreign students were attacked on Sunday by a mob after they objected to students offereing prayers on campus (Gujarat University/Facebook)

A university in India has issued new guidelines after foreign students were assaulted by a Hindu mob for offering Ramadan prayers on campus – asking the victims and others not to use public spaces for religious purposes.

At least five foreign students studying at Gujarat University in Ahmedabad, India, were injured after a mob of around 25 people armed with iron bars and sticks attacked them on Sunday.

Students from Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, South Africa, and Sri Lanka were injured in the attack with two of them requiring medical care.

Days after the incident, Gujarat University issued guidelines to international students living in university accommodation and barred them from engaging in “religious activity” in common areas, reported the Times of India.

In comments to the media, a university official also suggested the incident partly stemmed from a lack of “cultural assimilation” on the part of the foreign students.

The new guidelines said students could face expulsion from the college if they were to be found involved in the “use of abusive and threatening language, physical fights, use of force to get an unfair act accomplished etc”.

“Public space to be avoided for any private, religious or outside activity,” one of the directives on the guidelines read.

The guidelines came as the international students were transferred to a different hostel following Sunday’s ordeal, which received widespread media coverge.

The university said it had established a foreign student advisory committee to address their concerns and deployed retired army personnel on campus to strengthen security, according to the Press Trust of India.

Gujarat police have arrested five people since the incident.

Videos of the late-night brawl on social media showed dozens of students armed with sticks hurling stones and vandalising vehicles inside the hostel amid chants of “jai shree Ram” (hail Lord Ram, a Hindu deity).

In a rare response to such incidents, the Indian foreign ministry said it was in touch with the state government regarding the violence and that “strict action” would be taken against the perpetrators.

The university appeared to downplay the incident and referred to it as a “clash between two groups after which the issue escalated”.

“One particular event (the offering of Ramadan prayers) cannot be the trigger for such a big incident,” Gujarat University’s vice chancellor Neeraja Arun Gupta told the Indian Express.

“It’s not a question of a religious practice… it might be a cultural practice. Foreign students should have been mentored in a better manner in terms of cultural assimilation.”

The Independent has reached out to Gujarat University for comment.