Protests in India over soaring food and fuel bills as unemployment rises

Thousands of people gathered for a rally to protest rising unemployment and soaring food and fuel prices in India.

Protesters rallied under the leader of the opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, who has pressed charges Prime Minister Narendra Modi Prioritize policies that benefit large business groups over smaller industries and poorer individuals.

Mr Gandhi suggested that the prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and essential commodities, including wheat, have skyrocketed between 45% and 175% since Mr Modi took control eight years ago in 2014.

The politician – whose father, Rajiv, was a former prime minister of India – spoke on Sunday at a rally at Ramlila Maidan in the capital New Delhi, traditionally used for religious festivals and events.

He told his 21.4 million Twitter followers: “The Congress party unites the country. Only Congress can put the country on the path of progress.

“We’re going to go straight to the public and tell them the truth, whatever’s in their hearts, they’re going to understand.”

He previously tweeted: “Today people have to think ten times before buying what they need.

“Only the Prime Minister is responsible for these problems.

“We will continue to add voices against inflation, the king will have to listen.”

The Congress Party tweeted ahead of the protest that Ramlila Maidan was “ready”, adding that the country was “united against inflation and against inflation”.

Delhi Police said party workers protesting elsewhere were “taken on buses and dropped off at the designated protest site”.

No one has been arrested, they added.

The government has defended itself by saying it has provided millions with housing, drinking water, free health insurance, toilets, gas connections and bank accounts.

Mr Gandhi also pointed the finger at the prime minister for creating “an atmosphere of fear and hatred” between Muslims and Hindus.

Mr Modi has long been accused of promoting a Hindu nationalist agenda, which has sparked tensions across the country.

In April this year, violence between Hindus and Muslims during a religious festival led police to impose a city curfew and ban more than gatherings of more than four people in parts of Gujarat, Mr Modi’s home state.

A day earlier, one person died and 10 people, including nine police officers, were injured after stones were thrown at a Hindu procession in the western Indian region.

Deadly violence swept through Gujarat in 2002 when Mr Modi was prime minister and a rising star in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Around 2,000 people, believed to be mostly Muslim, died in the months-long clashes.

A Muslim woman was gang raped by a Hindu mob during the riots for the fifth month — who also killed her three-year-old daughter and 13 other family members.

Bilkis Bano, then 19, appealed to officials to overturn the decision to release 11 men jailed for the horrifying crimes in 2008 after announcing they would be released in August.

The announcement sparked major protests in New Delhi.

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