In India, riot police arrested hundreds who had gathered in Delhi on Wednesday (30 August) to protest against the allotment of land to the Harijan Caste.
In India, riot police arrested hundreds who had gathered in Delhi on Wednesday (30 August) to protest against the allotment of land to the Harijan Caste. Prime Minister Morarji Desai recently launched a campaign to reduce inequalities suffered by Harijans also known as Untouchable or Children of God. The Government decision to hand out land to the Harijans has sparked off bitter protests from Indians in higher castes.
SYNOPSIS: Riot police were called in as some five thousand farmers gathered near the centre of Delhi. As soon as the farmers began to march towards the Indian Parliament buildings, police halted them and bundled them aboard buses, to be taken to jail.
The farmers, many of them chanting 'Death to Morarji Desai', came from Khanjawala village, about twenty miles (32 kilometres) north of Delhi One hundred and twenty Harijan families in the village have been allocated common grazing land, and the farmers are demanding that they be evicted. Leaders of the demonstration said they were not protesting over a caste issue, but were disputing a point of law. They claim the government had no legal right to appropriate common land in their village. India had almost eight million Harijans, many of them without land, or any means of livelihood. They are outside India's caste system, and have been deprived and persecuted for centuries.
In August, upper caste farmers launched a protest against land grants to Harijans, and more than one hundred people were injured in clashes between farmers and police. Two days later, in his independence day speech, Mr Morai said atrocities against Harijans were a shame and stigma of India, and called for a national effort to end them. Unlike earlier clashes, the demonstration did not end in violence, the arrested farmers entering police buses without much resistance.