(Photo source: BBC) Well, it's been almost a month since we left India, but after reading about these caste riots in Rajasthan (which N brought to my attention), I feel like we dodged a bullet. The Gujjar tribe has been protesting their position, blocking roads and stopping train service, preventing passage between Delhi and Agra (where the Taj Mahal is), among other places. Oh, and both police and protesters are being killed.
The best Article I've found on the piece so far is from the UK Guardian. Here's a snippet:
The violence began when police shot four protesters dead in running battles with thousands of Gujjars, traditionally sheep-rearers, who had gathered on a main highway and blocked traffic near Jaipur, early this morning.
When the news of the shootings spread, crowds gathered in Bundi, three hours drive from Jaipur, and police again resorted to baton charges, teargas and finally, bullets, to end the blockade. Four more protesters were left dead by the fighting.
In retaliation, a police officer was said to have been beaten to death. Riot police were also kidnapped before being released unharmed.
The caste system in India is a complex, and certainly by most outsiders' opinions, unfair system. The Gujjars are protesting for more seats in University and more government jobs. Indians see that education is the catapult over caste, and the quotas for lower castes for seats in university are (some might say pathetically) few. And if there's one thing I learned from Edward Luce's book In Spite of the Gods, it's that a government job is the holy grail of Indian employment: job security and plenty of opportunity to skim.
Pair that with what must be 40c-plus temperatures in the area, and you've got, well, this:
What with roads being blocked into Delhi, (as well as two major tourist routes) and over 2/3 of Rajasthan fraught with violence, I could not be happier that we're not there now. Rajasthan was a fantastic place to visit, and our travel hassles there seem very small in comparison to this.