India

Andhra Pradesh: Violent India protests over caste quotas

  • 1 February 2016
  • From the section India
Eight bogies of Ratnachal Express were set on fire by Kapu protesters in Andhra Pradesh Image copyright Press Trust of India
Image caption A train was set on fire by the protesters

At least 15 policemen have been injured in violent protests by a lower caste community demanding better access to jobs and education in southern India's Andhra Pradesh state.

The protesters belonging to the Kapu community set fire to railway carriages, a police station and dozens of vehicles on Sunday.

They also blocked a highway and railway tracks, disrupting services.

Reports said the protests were called off late on Sunday.

The violence began during a public meeting organised by the Kapu community which is accusing the ruling regional Telugu Desam Party of failing to keep its promise of reserving some government jobs for them.

The Kapu community comprises nearly 26% of the state's 50 million people.

The protesters marched toward the railway tracks, stopped the Ratnachal Express train, ordered the passengers to get off and set four coaches on fire, police said.

Chief Minister Chandrababu Nadu was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying that at least 15 policemen were injured when protesters attacked them with stones near Tuni, a town some 600km (375 miles) east of Hyderabad, the joint capital of Andhra Pradesh and the newly-formed Telangana states.

They also ransacked the local railway station and set 25 cars and other vehicles on fire.

India made it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of caste soon after the country won its independence.

But correspondents say that the influence of the caste system remains powerful, which is why the government has set quotas for jobs and university places.

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