Rampaging Jat protesters shut down water supply to New Delhi | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 21.02.2016
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Rampaging Jat protesters shut down water supply to New Delhi

The Indian capital, New Delhi, is experiencing a massive water problem after protesters from the Jat community destroyed a canal carrying water to the city. At least five people have died in the unrest.

Nearly 20 million people living in New Delhi were suffering severe disruptions on Sunday after caste protests in neighboring Haryana state forced factories to close and schools to be shut down for the next two days.

Jat protesters, agitating for higher quotas of government jobs, have destroyed pumping equipment at a treatment plant in Haryana, which provides most of Delhi's water.

Delhi state's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to people to conserve water and said it would be rationed for everyone barring the offices and residences of the president, the prime minister and India's chief justice, as well as defense installations, hospitals and the fire brigade.

Schools were ordered to remain shut on Monday.

Kejriwal's government also filed a petition with the Supreme Court to resolve the crisis, but the chief minister said all water treatment plants had been shut and restoring supply would take at least 24 hours.

Situation remains tense

Indien Protestmarsch Hardik Patel

Hardik Patel led protests by Gujarat's affluent Patel community

Meanwhile, fresh violence erupted on Saturday in Haryana despite the deployment of troops to stabilize the situation.

"The situation is much more in control than before," Amit Arya, spokesman for Haryana's chief minister, told reporters. The death toll from protests had gone up to seven with around 70 injured, he said.

Soldiers from India's army and paramilitary forces were also deployed to stabilize the situation after clashes occurred during the night in Rohtak, the center of the unrest.

India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh was expected to visit the area and meet leaders of the Jat community later on Sunday in a bid to defuse the crisis.

More than 80 million people in North India belong to the Jat community, which makes up about 25 percent of the population in Haryana. The Indian administrative system reserves jobs and university places for underprivileged members of the lower castes, but the quota has caused resentment among many upper caste communities, including the Jats.

India's growing population has increased the demand for secure government jobs and low-cost education in government universities, leading to many communities pressing for preference.

Similar protests rocked the country last year, when the Patel community in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, Gujarat, protested for quotas. Officials came down heavily on the protests, arresting their leader, Hardik Patel.

mg/tj (Reuters, AFP, PTI)

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