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11 Killed in First Day of Indian Elections - 2004-04-20


Polls have closed in India to end the first of five days of parliamentary voting in the world's largest democracy. The voting was marred by violence in some parts of the country, with at least 11 people reported killed.

Much of the violence took place in Kashmir, where Islamic militants have waged a separatist war for 14 years. Militants attacked 11 polling stations with grenades and gunfire.

Elsewhere across India, voting took place without incident.

But in Gujarat state, the turnout was low, with Muslim voters staying away because of fears of violence. At least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed during sectarian riots two-years ago in Gujarat.

A 27-year-old Muslim did vote, because he says the government is to blame for what happened and he wants it out of power.

The election is largely a contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the opposition Congress Party. Opinion polls suggest the BJP will win, but without a majority in the 543-member parliament, meaning it will have to form a coalition government. Final results are due May 13.

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