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.