GAUHATI, India (AP) — A protest against squatter evictions turned deadly in a northeastern Indian city on Wednesday as riot police fired tear gas and live rounds into the air to disperse thousands of stone-throwing protesters.
Two people were killed, including one who was hit by a police bullet, and at least 30 people including some officers were hospitalized with injuries from stones, police superintendent Dipak Choudhury said.
Police fired rubber bullets and live rounds into the air while charging the 10,000 or so protesters marching toward the Assam state government headquarters in Gauhati, he said.
The protesters set several cars on fire and ransacked at least a dozen public buses, he said. Hundreds sat on the road blocking traffic for several hours after the violence, leaving only after officials agreed to hold talks with them next week.
The protesters, including many women and children, were demanding an end to the evictions of squatters from bamboo huts built into the hills around the city. They want the government to allow them to stay and apply for utility services like water and electricity.
Officials carrying out the evictions over the past 10 days have said the illegal homes are degrading the environment and contributing to flash floods and mudslides, which in recent years have killed dozens of illegal settlers.