Source AP ©

Impoverished villagers burn police stations, vehicles in India

Just a day after clashes left 14 people dead, angry impoverished villagers burned police stations and vehicles and damaged railroad tracks in northwestern India on Wednesday.

Thousands of people continued to block key highways in the region to press their demand that the impoverished Gujjar group be classified at the bottom of India's complex social ladder so they can get government jobs and spots in educational institutions reserved for such people, said Madhukar Gupta, an administrator in Jaipur district.

Protesters set fire to two small police stations and two jeeps in Jhalawar, about 345 kilometers (215 miles) west of the state capital of Jaipur, Gupta said. There were no reported injuries.

Army and paramilitary forces patrolled the area in an effort to restore calm, Gupta said.

The state Cabinet was meeting in Jaipur to find a solution to the group's demand, Gupta said.

Vishvender Singh, a lawmaker representing the state's ruling Hindu nationalist party, urged leaders of the group to end the protests, but without success.

Trains and vehicular traffic were diverted from the region to avoid attacks by protesters, he said.

On Tuesday, villagers surrounded police trying to break up protests in three villages, and the officers opened fire, killing 12 people, said V.S. Singh, a state home ministry official. Police officer Kanhiya Lal said they fired in self-defense after villagers began throwing stones.

Two police officers died after they were severely beaten by protesters, Singh told reporters.

At least 80 people, including a dozen police officers, were injured in the clashes, Singh said.

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