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Sunday, 12 March, 2000, 08:48 GMT
India deaths blamed on caste violence
Street scene in India
Caste violence in the region is rare
By South Asia correspondent Mike Wooldridge

Police in southern India say apparent caste violence has claimed the lives of eight people in two villages around 100km from the city of Bangalore.

Seven low caste villagers were burnt to death after the killing of an upper caste youth, they say.

It is the kind of violence rarely reported from the state of Karnataka, which has acquired a reputation as a thriving part of India.

Its main city, Bangalore, has attracted high levels of investment and has been the powerhouse of India's information technology revolution.

Caste tensions of this sort are more commonly associated with areas of deeper poverty in the north, such as in Bihar.

Discrimination

But rural Karnataka is not immune to harassment of Dalits, formerly known as untouchables and at the bottom of the caste ladder.

Bihar caste tension
Women in Bihar protested after higher caste voters refused entry to polling stations
And Dalits in much of India have become less willing to accept what they consider to be discrimination against them.

Police say old enmities seem to lie behind this outbreak of violence.

The upper caste youth was killed in a village near the town of Chintamani, his attackers - the police say - suspected to be Dalits.

In retaliation, they say relatives and friends of the youth carried out a frenzied attack on a Dalit hamlet and set several huts ablaze - seven Dalits were burnt to death.

The state home minister, himself a Dalit, has gone to the scene of the killings.

Police reinforcements have also been sent.

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07 Mar 00 | South Asia
Court rules out caste differences
28 Sep 99 | South Asia
Dalits' political awakening
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