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Newspaper office raided by protestors following publication of article about castes

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the physical attacks that members of the Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (MRPS), an organisation that defends a lower caste, staged on the headquarters of the Telugu-language daily "Andhra Jyothi" and its employees on the evening of 26 May 2008 in Hyderabad, the capital of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, in protest against an article accusing certain caste organisations of corruption.

Shouting "Long live the MRPS," around 50 people threw stones at the newspaper's offices, located in the east of the city, then forced their way inside, where they spilled petrol from cans and started fires in several places. Some employees came close to being set on fire after been splashed with petrol. The fires were put out and the staff finally got the assailants to withdraw after about 10 minutes. The attack occurred during a brief absence by police who had been sent to protect the newspaper after telephone threats were received in the morning.

Simultaneous protests were also staged in the nearby towns of Vizag, Warangal and Sangareddy, where many copies of the newspaper were burned. MRPS president Manda Krishna Madiga, who filed a complaint against the newspaper, told a rally in the centre of Hyderabad: "'Andhra Jyothi' is a newspaper run by the upper castes. The article was a deliberate attempt to create conflicts within the Dalits [lower caste 'untouchables']."

Andhra Pradesh chief minister Rajasekhara Reddy condemned the incident but called on journalists to exercise more restraint and rejected the corruption charges made against him.

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