New Delhi/Astana, Sep 9 (IANS) The Indian embassy in Kazakhstan said it is closely monitoring the situation after a mass brawl broke out at a construction site in capital Astana and the government ordered the expulsion of 60 Indian workers from the country.
"Following media reports about an incident at the Abu Dhabi Plaza construction site on the evening of September 2, we have been informed that this happened when one of the workers had trouble swiping the access card to enter the construction site, which led to an altercation.
"Unfortunately, this incident, a company administrative matter, escalated into a brawl between the workers and security staff. Since the incident, the workers and security staff have returned to normal duties.
"We have been advised by the concerned parties that about 60 workers and security staff have been subjected to disciplinary measures including repatriation. We continue to closely monitor the situation," the Indian Embassy said in a post on its Facebook page.
According to Eurasianet.org, a massive brawl broke out in Astana late on September 2, provoking a diplomatic scandal.
It all reportedly began when Indian labourers hired to build the high-rise Abu Dhabi Plaza went on a drinking spree, seizing the opportunity of a day off work on the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Police representative Almas Sadubayev said that the first clash occurred when a group of the Indians, who live in housing units on the building site, attempted to leave the territory but were prevented from doing so by a security guard concerned at their inebriated state. The labourers ganged up on the guard in force and physically assaulted him. Local colleagues came to the defence of the guard, giving rise to the brawl, eurasianet.org said.
It quoted the New Times website as saying that the fighting drew in as many as around 700 people, who pelted police with stones when reinforcements were called in.
The deputy head of the General Prosecutor's Office, Andrei Lukin, said 41 people were detained, all of them Kazakhstani citizens.
Astana Mayor Aset Isekeshev, India's Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Harsh Kumar Jain, and leading representatives from the company building the Abu Dhabi Plaza went to the scene of the unrest.
Isekeshev said later on his Facebook account that there had been negotiations and that the tensions had been defused. The mayor also urged people to refrain from idle commentaries on the situation to avoid sowing further trouble.