4 killed in fresh Rajasthan clashes

Jaipur, June 1:

Clashes between rival communities left four dead today in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, taking the death toll from days of violence in the region over demands for more affirmative measures from the government to 23, officials said.

The clashes between Meena community and the Gujjars in Lalsot village of Dausa district came despite an order to police that they shoot protesters on sight, said Madhukar Gupta, the area’s top government administrator.

Four people died in the fighting, three of them Gujjars, Gupta said.

The Gujjars have been staging violent protests since Tuesday, demanding their community’s official classification at the bottom of India’s complex social ladder, in order to receive government jobs and university spots reserved for such groups.

The Meena community, which already enjoys the social benefits, are opposed to sharing them with the Gujjars.

Dausa, about 120 km off Jaipur — capital of Rajasthan — has seen most of the violence, including repeated attacks on government offices, railroad stations, and vehicles, said BL Arya, the state’s deputy home secretary. Gujjar protesters have also clashed with police at many places.

At least two policemen and 17 protesters have been killed in those clashes. The violence has since spread to neighbouring Haryana state and to the outskirts of New Delhi.

Today, police fired into the air to disperse Gujjar protesters after they tried to block a highway in Faridabad, a town adjoining New Delhi.

Rajasthan officials were holding talks with Gujjar leaders today to end the violence, Arya said.