BJP leader Gul Mohammad Mir shot dead in IoK ahead of new round of vote

SRINAGAR, INDIA: Suspected militants shot dead a local leader from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party in Indian Occupied Kashmir ahead of the latest round of India’s marathon election, police said.

The killing in Anantnag district of India’s only Muslim-majority state is the latest in a string of attacks that have marred the country’s staggered election which began last month.

The miscreants on Saturday night opened fire on Gul Mohammad Mir, 65, who headed a local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), at his house in the disputed territory.

Police said a polling station to be used in the district on Monday was set ablaze in the nearby Shopian area.

Voter turnout in IoK has barely crossed 10 per cent in the previous rounds of the election and Anantnag is expected to suffer on Monday – the fifth round of voting in the six week long election which ends on May 19. Results are to be released four days later.

Political killings are common in India’s bitterly-fought elections with party rivalries as well as regional politics boiling over.

Last week a bomb attack by far-left Maoist rebels in western Maharashtra state killed 15 police commandos and their driver.

The Maoists, who have traditionally boycotted elections as part of their campaign against the Indian state, killed two police constables in Chhattisgarh state last month.

They attacked a political convoy in the same state on April 11, killing five people including a BJP lawmaker.

Monday’s voting will be held in 51 constituencies across seven states, including Uttar Pradesh, India’s biggest state, which accounts for 80 of the 543 lawmakers decided in the election.

Amethi, the family borough of India’s main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh, also votes on Monday.

In the 2014 election, the BJP decimated Gandhi’s Congress party, clinching 282 seats. This election is predicted to be closer.