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Monday 20 November 2017

Police open fire amid Indian benefit protests

Police have opened fire on protesters in the northern state
Police have opened fire on protesters in the northern state

At least one person has been killed after hundreds of army and paramilitary soldiers cracked down on protesters demanding government benefits in a northern Indian state.

Vehicles, shopping malls and train stations have been burned and politicians' homes were attacked after police were ordered to fire on demonstrators without warning, killing at one person.

Clashes between security forces and protesters have left 78 people injured since Friday.

The violence raged for a second day with protesters burning a train and attacking shops and cars in several towns in Haryana state, police said.

Protesters also blocked a motorway linking New Delhi to key northern cities, a spokesman said, adding that authorities ordered police to fire without warning at those instigating violence.

Authorities used helicopters to bring in army soldiers to the worst-hit districts of Rohtak, Bhiwani and Jhajjar, where curfew is in place.

The protesters were driven by members of the Jat agricultural community who are demanding benefits both at federal and state levels, which include guaranteed government jobs or university spots.

Talks between community leaders and state government representatives failed to reach an agreement on the percentage of job benefits.

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 Jat, qualifying for quotas.

Press Association

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