India's economic troubles, caused by the rising world price of food and the shortage of oil, have brought bloody riots to the Western State of Gujarat.
India's economic troubles, caused by the rising world price of food and the shortage of oil, have brought bloody riots to the Western State of Gujarat. By Saturday (26 January), when the country held its traditional Republic Day celebrations, thirty-five people had died, hundreds of others injured, and rows of shops throughout the State had been looted or burned.
On Saturday alone, at least six people were killed by the violence generated by the food riots. The riots had originally been sparked off by peaceful demonstrations by students against the rising cost of food. Most urban centres in the State have been placed under a blanket curfew, following a twenty-four hour general strike in Gujarat during which crowds looted and burned shops, and fought running battles with the Police. The strike had been called to protest against food shortages and inflation.
The State's Republic Day parade, which is usually held in the capital, Ahmedabad, was switched to nearby Gandhinagar, because of the situation. In the country's capital, New Delhi, Saturday's main celebrations were much more austere than usual. The fly-past which traditionally accompanies the main parade, was cancelled, and the Army displayed fewer of its mechanised vehicles because of the fuel shortage.
Despite the fine weather, the crowds in the streets of New Delhi, were noticeably thinner than in past years, and observers who have seen the parade many times before, said that the spectators were much less enthusiasm tic all along the route.
Among the special guests present at the parade were President Tito of Yugoslavia and Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. They are both on official vists to India, and in the evening they were entertained to dinner by the Indian Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, during which the three leaders had informal talks. No details of their discussions were released, but it was expected that they dealt with ways of bolstering the Non-Aligned Group of Countries actions to tackle the effects of the oil crisis.
Officials said that Mrs. Gandhi and President Tito had already agreed that the neglected bureau of the Non-Aligned Conference should be reactivate.