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Page last updated at 07:51 GMT, Sunday, 25 May 2008 08:51 UK

Indian tribal clashes kill dozens

Gujjars vandalise railway tracks - photo 23 May
The protests caused disruption to road and rail routes

At least 36 people have died in two days of clashes between security forces and ethnic Gujjar protesters in the Indian state of Rajasthan, police say.

Police opened fire on demonstrators on Friday in Bharatpur district killing at least 15. One policeman also died.

Unrest continued on Saturday in Sikandra as police stations were torched and 20 more people were killed.

The Gujjars want official recognition to make them eligible for preferential recruitment in jobs and education.

Road and rail traffic between the Indian capital, Delhi, and the city of Jaipur has been affected.

$60m package

The state government has now called for negotiations with the Gujjars, but there has so far been no response.

Similar protests almost a year ago resulted in the death of 23 people.

Last week the state government announced a financial package for Gujjars worth more than $60m.

But they rejected the package, saying they must be included in the official list of the disadvantaged tribal groups, which gives them access to government jobs and other benefits.

Nearly half of all federal and state governments jobs are reserved for the poor and disadvantaged groups.

The issue of affirmative action is a sensitive one in India with many poor communities arguing it is the only way they can benefit from the country's economic growth.

But those opposed to the policy blame politicians for using it as a tool to gain votes. State elections are due in Rajasthan later this year.




SEE ALSO
Five dead in India tribal clash
23 May 08 |  South Asia
Why the Gujjars are so aggrieved
31 May 07 |  South Asia
Despair of the discriminated Dalits
05 Dec 06 |  South Asia
India's colleges confront quotas
25 Aug 06 |  South Asia
Indian court upholds caste quotas
19 Oct 06 |  South Asia
Rise of the untouchables
20 Feb 02 |  South Asia

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