Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel patrol a street for the upcoming general election in Siliguri, in the Indian state of West Bengal, on April 9, 2019. - India is holding a general election to be held over nearly six weeks starting on April 11, when hundreds of millions of voters will cast ballots in the world's biggest democracy. (Photo by DIPTENDU DUTTA / AFP) (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)


AT LEAST seven people including a state legislator for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were killed in two separate attacks on Tuesday (9), officials said, days before India begins a general election.

Five people including BJP lawmaker Bheema Mandavi were killed in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh after Maoist militants detonated a bomb as Mandavi and his entourage were driving back from a campaign appearance, district magistrate Topeshwar Verma said.

In a separate attack, unknown gunmen burst into a hospital in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir and killed Chandrakant Sharma, a regional leader of a Hindu group linked to the BJP, along with his bodyguard, a police official said.

Authorities imposed an indefinite curfew in the town of Kishtwar, bordering the contested Muslim-majority region of Kashmir claimed by both India and Pakistan, and sent troops to the area.

Sharma, 48, was a leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

He was flown to a hospital at the Government Medical College in Jammu but died there, senior police officer Angrez Singh Rana said.

“He was the centre of hope and trust for a patriotic society that is against terrorism,” said Manmohan Vaidya, general secretary of the RSS.

Last November, Sharma’s close associate Anil Parihar, 52, a leader of the BJP, and his brother Ajeet, 55, were also killed in Kishtwar.

The issue of Kashmir looms large in India’s multi-phase general election after a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitary troopers was claimed by a militant group based in Pakistan.

Voting in south Kashmir, bordering the area where Sharma was killed, will happen in phases, to reduce the risk of attacks by militants.

(Reuters)