Friday 30 September 2016

Three day protests in north India near end after 12 people die in clashes

Published 22/02/2016 | 10:46

Demonstrators from the Jat community listen to a speaker as they block the Delhi-Haryana national highway during a protest at Sampla village in Haryana, India, February 22, 2016. Reuters/Adnan Abidi
Demonstrators from the Jat community listen to a speaker as they block the Delhi-Haryana national highway during a protest at Sampla village in Haryana, India, February 22, 2016. Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Authorities in a north Indian state have started lifting curfews in key towns and protesters have gradually removed roadblocks after 12 people died in clashes during demonstrations for government benefits.

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Government forces also secured a canal in Haryana state, which provides 60pc of New Delhi's water needs, easing fears of a shortage in the Indian capital.

New Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said engineers were repairing portions of a reservoir damaged by protesters.

The situation was improving in Rohtak district, which bore the brunt of attacks by the protesters in the Jat community, who demanded quotas in jobs and educational institutions, said police officer Saurabh Singh.

Curfews ended in Hissar and Hansi towns as law and order were being restored after three days of violence which saw mobs burning vehicles, banks, rail stations, shops and petrol stations.

Thousands of stranded vehicles still clogged highways in the state, and train services were disrupted by protesters sitting on rail tracks.

At least 12 people were killed by Indian security forces firing on protesters, state Home Secretary P K Das told reporters on Sunday. Another 150 protesters have been injured in clashes in various parts of the state.

With the state government accepting their demands for 27% job quotas, Jat leaders are expected to hold a meeting and formally end their protests later on Monday. The Jat community comprises nearly 29% of Haryana state's 25 million people

India's constitution includes a system of affirmative action for people in the lowest castes to help them overcome discrimination. The government has expanded the number of groups, including the Jat, qualifying for quotas.

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