AHMADABAD: At least six people have died in the worst violence to hit Narendra Modi’s home state in more than a decade, police said, as the Indian prime minister appealed for calm.
Fresh communal clashes erupted on Wednesday in western India as police and paramilitary forces tried to quell riots led by members of a farming caste demanding government benefits.
Authorities imposed a curfew in at least five cities in Gujarat state on Tuesday night after mobs attacked police with stones and sticks and burned vehicles. Cellphone communications were blocked in the state’s main city of Ahmadabad to stop both rumors from spreading and gangs from coordinating their movements.
Police said five people had been killed, including a father and son caught in a protesting crowd on their way home from work and then killed when police fired on the crowd on Tuesday night in Ahmadabad.
On Wednesday, two people died from police gunfire in Palanpur, and a third was killed by paramilitary fire in Mehsana, according to police officials who refused to be identified by name because they were not authorised to speak with media.
Isolated clashes between protesters and police occurred in several other cities in Gujarat, including the diamond cutting and polishing hub of Surat.
Patidars make up about 20 per cent of Gujarat’s 63 million people and say their livelihoods based on seasonal farming and small industry have become increasingly difficult amid India’s agricultural malaise and rapid economic growth marked by high inflation.– Agencies