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Seven Slain In Violence In Ahmedabad

April 23, 1985

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ At least seven people were killed today as violence erupted again in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad despite the deployment of army troops, state authorities said.

All-India Radio said the deaths occurred in police shootings in Ahmedabad’s Bapunagar district.

State authorities said in addition to the deaths, an undetermined number of people were wounded.

The Gujarat state government said hundreds of policemen who went on a rampage Monday following the slaying of a policeman had returned to duty.

State officials extended a curfew over the entire city today, and army troops were reported patrolling streets with orders to shoot rioters.

Indubhai Patel, president of the opposition Janata (People’s) Party, was admitted to a hospital after he was assaulted by a mob in Ahmedabad, capital of Gujarat, the radio reported.

Gujarat has been wracked by 10 weeks of protests over an increase in quotas for backward castes in colleges and government employment. The demonstrations have degenerated into Moslem-Hindu violence in some areas.

Although Ahmedabad is the center of the anti-quota agitation, widespread violence also has flared up in other cities. Army troops were called out in Baroda, Gujarat’s largest city, over the weekend to quell religious bloodletting.

The United News of India news agency in Ahmedabad told The Associated Press by telephone that the latest violence apparently was triggered by Hindu-Moslem clashes.

″It is difficult to report what actually is happening because journalists are afraid to go out on the streets. A number of reporters have been beaten up by policemen,″ a UNI reporter said.

News reports said rebellious policemen set fire Monday to the headquarters of a Gujarati-language newspaper, the Gujarat Samachar, with the editor, his family and several employees inside. They were rescued by fire fighters. The reports said policemen also had hurled rocks at offices of other dailies.

Officials acknowledged that several reporters and news photographers were assaulted by policemen enraged over newspaper reports on police atrocities. The Gujarat High Court last weekend ordered a probe into reports that policemen entered Ahmedabad homes, beat up women and children and hurled verbal abuses.

Lawmakers in the national Parliament voiced alarm today at the escalating violence in Gujarat and asked the government to take steps to halt the bloodshed.

More than 42 people have been killed and hundreds injured since the agitation began in February.

More than 80 people injured in the violence were admitted in various city hospitals Monday, UNI quoted hospital officials as saying.

One person was killed and five others injured late Monday night when police opened fire to quell mob violence and arson in a riot-battered sector of Ahmedabad, UNI reported.

Although rioting erupted over a proposed increase in quotas from 31 to 49 percent in professional colleges and government jobs, it degenerated into communal violence as upper caste Hindus clashed with lower castes, untouchables and Moslems - the main beneficiaries of the quota system.

The state government has promised to review the controversial policy and has acceded to most other demands by student leaders.

Several organizations of parents and lawyers have supported the agitation in Gujarat, which was the home of Indian freedom activist Mohandas K. Gandhi.

Update hourly