NEW DELHI (AP) — A baby and a toddler were killed in a house fire allegedly set by their family’s upper caste neighbors, and hundreds of angry residents placed the children’s bodies on a key highway near the Indian capital to demand the attackers be arrested.
The 2½-year-old and 9-month old were sleeping when the attackers poured gasoline and set the fire in Sunpedh village Monday night. The children died while their mother was in critical condition, police said.
The father was injured as he tried to break down the locked door of the house.
Federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh described the attack as “very unfortunate and condemnable.” He spoke to the chief minister of Haryana statewhere the village is located, to ask for immediate steps to restore calm.
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Police said there was long-standing enmity between the castes since three upper caste men were killed last year.
Caste discrimination was outlawed soon after India’s independence from Britain in 1947 but persists in Indian society. Disputes between different castes are a common cause of violence.