- The Guardian, Friday May 30 2008
Thousands of protesters from India’s Gujjar tribe brought Delhi to a standstill yesterday, paralysing trains by squatting on tracks and setting up a ring of burning tyres around the perimeter of the city.
The Gujjars, traditionally nomadic farmers, demand to be socially downgraded in order to gain government jobs and university places. Thousands gathered at major intersections around New Delhi, setting up road blocks.
Paramilitary forces and police were drafted in to stop violence but most stood by, wary after a week of bloodshed in northern India which left 39 people dead – 38 of them shot by security forces. Only when the mob threatened to surge past police lines did forces fire teargas to quell the stone-throwing crowds.
Community leaders have been demanding special status for several years. The Gujjars, already considered disadvantaged, want to be reclassified further down the Hindu hierarchy.