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Lower-caste mobs protest killing allegedly by rival higher caste in northern India

Lower-caste mobs protest killing allegedly by rival higher caste in northern India

Enraged mobs from low-ranking castes blocked roads and stoned police in northern India on Tuesday, a day after a man from their community was allegedly killed by members of a higher caste, police said.
Hundreds of protesters chanted slogans denouncing the higher castes and demanded the immediate arrest of the killers of Rakesh Kumar, a dalit, one of the lowest rungs of India's complex social ladder. Police dispersed the crowd with bamboo sticks, but didn't arrest any demonstrators, inspector-general of police Sharad Kumar said.
There were no reports of serious injuries.
India's caste system divides people into four hierarchical groups, with hundreds of sub-castes within each group, most drawn along occupational lines. Disputes between different castes are a common cause of violence in India.
Kumar, 30, was allegedly shot and killed by three unidentified assailants on two motorbikes on Monday night in Gohana, a small town nearly 200 kilometers (125 miles) southwest of Chandigarh, the joint capital of Haryana and Punjab states, police official Sharad Kumar told reporters.
Supporters of the victim suspect he was killed out of revenge by members of the higher-ranking Jat community, traditionally made up of farmers and landowners, said Ravan, the chief of a local dalit organization who goes by one name.
Rakesh Kumar was arrested two years ago in the killing of a member of the Jat group, but was freed for lack of evidence. Tensions have simmered between the two communities ever since, Ravan said.
Police have detained four people for questioning in the killing and sent reinforcements to the town to deter communal violence. There have been no reported clashes between the two groups since Kumar's killing, police official Sharad Kumar said.
Discrimination under the caste system was outlawed soon after India's independence from Britain in 1947. But the system's influence remains powerful and the government has sought to redress discrimination against those on the lower rungs by setting up quotas for government jobs and university spots.


Updated : 2021-05-10 04:07 GMT+08:00