Tear gas fired on student protesters in India

Students in India protested a government affirmative action plan for the nation's lower castes. In attempts to disperse the protest police fired tear gas and used water canons on Monday. No arrests or injuries were reported.

The protest in India's capital city came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Cabinet approved proposed legislation to reserve 27 percent of school seats for the lower castes.

More than 1,000 students took part in the protest against reserving spaces in state-funded medical, engineering and other professional colleges for lower castes. They were shouting anti-government slogans and waving red, green and white Indian flags.

Police opened water canons and fired tear gas as the protesters tried to break through barricades and head toward the house of Sonia Gandhi, the president of the governing Congress party. The protesters planned to present a petition urging her to reverse the Cabinet's decision.

Supporters of the government move say the policy would help undo centuries of oppression and discrimination. Hinduism divides people into castes, and while the system has been officially outlawed, discrimination remains common, the AP says. 

Critics say the lower castes should be strengthened through education rather than an increase in the number of study and work opportunities, because many jobs and school spots already reserved for low castes remain empty.

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