Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 10:23 UK

Tribesmen try to paralyse Delhi

Gujjar protestors throw brickbats at police in Delhi's Aya Nagar area on 29 May 2008
The protestors are demanding inclusion in affirmative action quotas

Thousands of protesters from India's Gujjar tribe have burnt tyres and blocked key roads into Delhi in support of their demand for better treatment.

Tens of thousands of paramilitary troops and policemen have been deployed to maintain order.

Over the past week, at least 41 people have died in clashes between police and Gujjars in Rajasthan, western India.

The Gujjars are a large and politically influential tribe spread across the north of the country.

Meanwhile, in protests elsewhere, a member of the Gujjar community has been killed in Samalakha village in the state of Haryana.

Police said the man was killed when police fired rubber bullets at a crowd of protestors.

Protests have also been continuing in the state of Rajasthan.

Earlier this month the Rajasthan government announced an aid package worth $60m (30m) for the community but this was rejected.

The Gujjars say they want to be placed on an official list of disadvantaged tribal groups that benefit from preferential recruitment to government jobs and educational institutions.

Traffic blocked

Thousands of Gujjars have gathered on the outskirts of Delhi, chanting slogans against the chief minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje Scindia.


"They fired at Gujjars in Rajasthan. But it hurts Gujjars all over the country. We all stand united on the issue," a Gujjar leader, Joginder Singh Awana, told the BBC.

"We want a case registered against the Rajasthan chief minister. She is a murderer. Forty of our people were shot and killed on her orders," said an angry protester.

"When a terrorist is killed in an encounter, the human rights groups come out in his support. Dozens of unarmed Gujjars have been killed, but how come no one has come out in their support?" asked another.

On the outskirts of Delhi, traffic has been blocked by hundreds of Gujjars on the highway that connects the suburbs of Noida and Ghaziabad with Delhi.

Traffic jams have also been reported on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon highway that connects Delhi with Gurgaon.

Noida and Gurgaon are home to hundreds of call centres and IT offices.

The authorities have put Delhi and its suburbs, which make up India's National Capital Region, on high alert.

Additional police have been deployed at all entry points and police check posts have been erected across the city.

The Gujjars have also threatened to stop essential supplies, including milk and vegetables, from coming into the city.

The violence began last Friday when police opened fire on Gujjar demonstrators in Rajasthan.

Ever since, the protesters have blocked rail and road access between Rajasthan and Delhi, and a major highway linking the Rajasthan capital, Jaipur, to the city of Agra, which is home to the Taj Mahal.

Last year at least 26 people were killed in similar protests.

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