HYDERABAD, India (AP) — A protest in southern India by thousands of people demanding that some state government jobs be reserved for members of a lower-caste community turned violent Sunday with at least 15 policemen injured, an official said.
Chandrababu Nadu, the top elected official of Andhra Pradesh state, said the protesters set on fire some train coaches, a police station and dozens of vehicles.
He said the protesters belonging to the lower-caste Kapu community blocked a national highway and disrupted train service by sitting on railroad tracks.
Naidu said passengers on the Ratnachal Express train were unharmed. But he said at least 15 policemen were injured when protesters attacked them with stones near Tuni, a town about 600 kilometers (375 miles) east of Hyderabad, the joint capital of Andhra Pradesh and the newly-formed Telangana states.
The violence started during a big public meeting organized by the Kapu community which accused the ruling Telugu Desam Party, a regional group, of reneging on its promise made during the state legislature elections in 2014 to reserve some state government jobs for members of the lower-caste group. The Kapu community comprises nearly 26 percent of the state's 50 million people.
The protesters marched toward the railroad tracks and stopped the Ratnachal Express train. They ordered the passengers to get off and set four coaches on fire, police said.
They ransacked the Tuni rail station and also set a nearby police post and 25 cars and other vehicles on fire, Naidu said. The protesters clashed with police when they tried to disperse them.
Police reinforcements have been sent to the area to end the protest, Naidu said.