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Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Mumbai protest over water cuts leads to violent clashes

Police beat up protesters in Mumbai on 3 Dec 2009
Officials say the police were forced to use sticks to beat back protesters

Police in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) have used sticks to beat back thousands of demonstrators protesting against cuts in the water supply.

One man died during the clashes, with protesters alleging that he was beaten to death by the police, who denied the charge.

At least 15 people were injured during the protest and taken to hospital.

Mumbai has been in the grip of a severe water shortage and supply cuts of 15% to 30% have been imposed in many areas.

Officials say the shortage is because of insufficient rainfall this monsoon and that the supply cuts will continue until the next monsoon.

'Water thefts'

More than 5,000 protesters had assembled outside the headquarters of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) - the main civic body responsible for the city's water supply, the BBC's Prachi Pinglay reports from Mumbai.

The demonstration was led by Nitesh Rane, president of an NGO called Swabhimaan (Self-respect).

Mr Rane and a few others have been detained by the police. It is not clear if they have been formally arrested.

Mr Rane is son of Narayan Rane, a Congress party politician who was formerly with the Hindu hardline Shiv Sena party.

Swabhimaan members alleged that civic officials were "doing little to snap unauthorised water connections that result in massive thefts and leakages across Mumbai".

One member said, "The beating by police resulted in the death of a protester, 43-year-old Viral Dholakiya. About 15 people have been injured, including a few women who have been badly wounded in the rally."

Municipal officials said the cause of Mr Dholakia's death was not known.

They said the police were forced to use sticks as the mob went out of control.

Mumbai has been in the grip of a major water crisis for the past few months.

This year's less-than-average monsoon rains amplified the water shortages and highlighted the city's ageing infrastructure system that is in need of heavy investment.



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