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Last Updated: Monday, 4 December 2006, 13:38 GMT
Tight security amid Dalit unrest
By Zubair Ahmed
BBC News, Mumbai

The Deccan Queen train, set alight 65km from Mumbai
At least two trains were set alight by protesters last week
Heavy security is in place in the city of Nagpur in the western Indian state of Maharashtra for the opening of the state assembly's winter session.

The city was among parts of the state which saw violence during protests last week by low-caste Hindus, or Dalits.

At least three Dalits were killed in the unrest and trains, cars and property damaged.

Parties representing Dalits called for a rally to be held in Nagpur on Monday, but it was banned on security grounds.

A Dalit leader, who tried to enter the city, was arrested.

Statue row

The assembly session in Nagpur is usually a non-event.


But this time around it has acquired a special significance in the light of last week's protests by the Dalit community.

They were angry at the desecration of a statue in Kanpur in northern Uttar Pradesh state dedicated to BR Ambedkar, one of the architects of the Indian constitution and a leading Dalit leader of the last century.

Three Dalit protesters were killed in the Maharashtra violence, one of them shot by police.

The assembly session threatens to be stormy, as opposition parties are likely to raise the issue of violence and the killings of four members of a Dalit family in September, allegedly by high-caste people.

The opposition is also likely to challenge the governing Congress party-led coalition over a spate of suicides by the state's farmers.

So far, more than 1,000 farmers who were trapped in debt have taken their own lives since June last year.

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