India: Seven killed as police open fire on protesters

Seven people have been killed after police in India's Tamil Nadu state opened fire on a crowd of angry Dalit (formerly untouchables) protesters.

The incident occurred at Paramakudi town, some 530km (330 miles) from the capital, Chennai, on Sunday.

Protesters had blocked roads and set a number of government vehicles on fire. Tamil Nadu's chief minister said the police acted in self defence.

The protesters were demanding the release of their leader, John Pandian.

Mr Pandian, who leads the TMMK, a Dalit party in the southern state, had been arrested on his way to a function at Paramakudi.

Party workers had gathered in the town to observe the death anniversary of a Dalit leader, Immanuel Sekaran.

Police say they detained him because they feared his presence at the function would incite tensions.

But his arrest led to clashes in which nearly 30 people, including policemen, were injured.

The police opened fire on the crowd, killing five people on the spot. Two others died of their injuries in hospital late on Sunday.

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