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Water rationed as India caste protest toll rises

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At least 10 people have been killed and 150 injured in protests by India’s agricultural Jat community in support of caste-based quota systems, according to police.

The violence in the north Indian state of Haryana on Saturday and Sunday affected water supplies in the capital New Delhi as protesters cut off canal gates feeding its treatment plants.

“Until the government reaches a decision in our favour, we’re going to stop water supplies, block roads and disrupt railways to New Delhi,” Satayawan Mor, a protester, told Al Jazeera.

Arvind Kejriwal, New Delhi’s chief minister, announced water rations across the city and said schools would be closed throughout the city to help preserve supplies.

On his Twitter account, Kejriwal said officials were seeking help from the army to open up the canals, which supply the area.

Yash Pal Singal, Haryana state police chief, said on Sunday that 10 people had been killed and 150 people injured in the week-long riots.

Thousands of troops with shoot-on-sight orders have been deployed to Haryana to quell the violence by Jat protesters who want an expansion of India’s caste-based quota system to include them.

India’s constitution has a system of affirmative action to help people from castes that are traditionally discriminated against.

The week-long demonstrations turned violent on Friday with protesters setting fire to homes, shops and government buildings, as well as blocking motorways.

“We are not in control. The situation is very tense as thousands of protesters are on roads encircling the main administrative area in the town,” Rajiv Kumar, Jhajjar police chief, told AFP news agency.

Jhajjar and the surrounding Rohtak district are the focus of the protests.

[Source: Al-Jazeera]
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