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10M without water in Delhi, India; rioting kills 16

By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Feb. 22, 2016 at 7:13 AM

NEW DELHI, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- More than 10 million people in Delhi, India, the national capital territory, were without water Monday after a protest over jobs seized the city's main water source.

The army regained control of the 62-mile long Munak canal, Delhi's water supply, after the protesting Jat community sabotaged the canal during rioting across northern India. Sixteen people were killed and hundreds were injured in the conflict.

The water board said it would take several days to restore water throughout the city of 16 million, and the state government has sent technical experts from its irrigation department to the canal to restore the water supply.

The Jat minority is based largely in India's Haryana state, which includes Delhi. Regarded as an upper-class, educated and politically influential community, some have demonstrated for inclusion on a list of lower-class castes in order to qualify for government jobs and educational opportunities. As job growth in India's private sector has slowed, the Jat community has sought reinstatement of their lower-class caste status to qualify members for government jobs.

In 2014 the government announced it would consider the Jats in the classification "other backward castes," but India's Supreme Court overruled the decision in 2015, confirming the Jats are not a backward community.

The violence that shut down Delhi's water system also closed schools, roads and India's national railroad. Police across northern India appealed for calm, though Y.P. Singhal, Haryana's director general police, said violence had reduced since the weekend.

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