India: Nine dead in protests in Indian PM’s home state

27th Aug 2015
India: Nine dead in protests in Indian PM’s home state

By Mubasshir Mushtaq

 

MUMBAI, (AA): At least nine people have died in India’s western state of Gujarat which witnessed incidents of violence and rioting in many districts on Wednesday as a protest to demand government jobs turned violent, Indian media reported.

Indian Express newspaper reported that nine people, including a police official, had died on Wednesday in various districts of the Gujarat.

Gujarat’s Patel community had called for a statewide shutdown on Wednesday, a day after their 21-year-old young leader Hardik Patel was briefly detained by police officials after addressing a rally in the city of Ahmedabad ,which was attended by an estimated half a million people.

For weeks, the Patel community, the core voting constituency of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been asking the Gujarat state government to introduce quotas for spots in in schools and for government jobs. The demand was rejected by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, a Patel herself, on the grounds that such measures could not be implemented because of a Supreme Court ruling.

Wednesday’s protest saw alleged members of Patel community damaging public property, burning state-owned buses, attacking public banks, police stations and police officials. TV images showed remains of a charred bus in Ahmedabad, the biggest city of Gujarat.

Curfew was imposed in Ahmedabad, the city of Surat, and in Mehsana district as the Indian army marched through the streets. Schools, colleges, shops remained closed on Wednesday. Mobile and internet services were interrupted as state authorities feared rumors could affect other areas in Gujarat.

“Violence will not benefit anyone. The only way forward is to have a peaceful dialogue,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a video message on Wednesday.

Hardik Patel accused state police officials of unleashing violence on protesting members of the Patel community.

“We have urged people to restore peace. We urge the same to the government and police. If even a single person is beaten, then the government and the police will be responsible for the consequences,” Patel told local news channel NDTV.

 

[Photo:  2000 Musilms killed in 2002 Ahmedabad, Guarat, India riots. Photographer: Aksi Great /Creative-Commons]

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