"Just because we belong to Afghanistan, we can’t be treated as members of a militant group," said a first-year engineering student from Afghanistan on Thursday, reflecting the anger, fear and distrust among many foreign students of Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT) in the wake of last week’s clash.
"In the clash, we were beaten up first, our laptops were broken, money was stolen and now we are being portrayed as culprits," the student added.
On Saturday night, a student from Bangladesh, Rifat Bokhtiar, and an Afghani student, Zabiullah, had a fight as the latter asked the other to keep volume of his music system low. It soon escalated into a clash as more students from Afghanistan on the one side and those from Bangladesh and Nepal on the other joined the issue.
When HT talked to eyewitnesses, warden and students from Afghanistan on Thursday, it emerged that students from both the sides were hurt in the clash and that the fight was started by the Bangladeshi student.
A warden, on the condition of anonymity, said, "It was the fault of both the groups. Rifat and Zabiullah were both hurt in the clash. Students also broke laptops of Afghan students. But, now, all the foreign and NRI students have ganged up seeking revenge from Afghan students. They pelted stones on the energy centre, where Afghan students have been shifted after the incident."
A fourth-year civil engineering student from Afghanistan said, "We are just 36 and the other group, which include students from Bangladesh and Nepal, have about 80 students. So, how is it possible for us to attack and threaten them? We have left the issue on director’s discretion but other group is trying to create controversy by spreading rumours." IB team visits campus
Following apprehensions expressed in some quarters that militant groups could be involved in the clash, a team from Intelligence Bureau (IB) came to the institute to probe the matter.
"The IB team came to the institute and I showed them all the papers. In our institute, we enroll students after a long process of verification," said MANIT director Appu Kuttan, who had met the IB team.