The UK Foreign Office has warned British nationals in India about protests in the state of Haryana that turned violent on 18 February. The warning comes as one person has reportedly been killed and six injured after police opened fire on protesters in the city of Rohtak.
Mobile services have been blocked indefinitely in Rohtak, schools and colleges have been ordered to remain closed until 22 February and transport and other local services have been severely disrupted due to the unrest. The protests have been staged by Haryana's 'Jat' community, traditionally an agricultural group in northern India. They have been demanding assurances for their community in government jobs and educational institutions.
The Foreign Office warned UK nationals: "You should remain vigilant and avoid any protests, demonstrations or large gatherings. Monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities. Protests, political rallies and demonstrations occur frequently throughout the country and can turn violent, particularly around elections."
Jat protesters have blocked roads in the region, disrupting the supply of milk, vegetables, fruits and other items on the national highway that connects Rohtak with other parts of the state. The Jat community held talks with the chief minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar, on 19 February but rejected Khattar's offer to enhance the quota for the Economically Backward Class from, 10% to 20%. The Jats are demanding reservation under the Other Backward Class category.
President of the All India Jat Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti, Yashpal Malik, said: "We reject the offer, it is not technically viable. It is illegal and cannot be implemented. We cannot be fooled once again, we have been fighting for our right for several years now. The agitation has further spread to Kaithal, Faridabad, Karnal, Palwal today and by tomorrow, it will cover entire Haryana."
More than 800,000 British nationals are believed to visit India every year and the Foreign Office said that most visits go without any trouble.