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Communists warn of violent voter suppression as India begins Phase 5 of its six-week election

PHASE 5 of India’s six-week election gets underway tomorrow — but communists warn that the Electoral Commission is ignoring multiple violations.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) complains that India’s electoral authorities ignore regular instances of BJP candidates, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, inciting communal hatred against Muslims, and even instances of police violence against Muslim voters.

CPI-M outlet People’s Democracy reported today that in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal constituency, groups of police officers attacked people queueing to vote in the mainly Muslim Mansoorpur, Ovari, Shahbazpur Kalan and Mubarakpur villages, snatching ID cards and voting slips and beating them with lathis (iron-bound bamboo rods often carried by police in India). 

Despite complaints police and electoral authorities have done nothing, showing that “in [Chief Minister Yogi] Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh, Muslims have already become second-class citizens.”

Uttar Pradesh is India’s biggest state by population, and the largest subnational territory on Earth, its 240 million people outnumbering the populations of all but five countries (including India itself). 

Since 2017 it has been led by BJP strongman and former Hindu monk Mr Adityanath, who has stated that Muslims “did India no favours” at Partition by not emigrating en masse to Pakistan, and has passed laws criticised as Islamophobic including by restricting marriages between Muslims and Hindus. 

The CPI-M has previously criticised his administration for a 30 per cent rise in violent crimes against women in the last three years, which it says is linked to police indifference to such crimes if committed by Hindu men against Muslim or Dalit (lower caste) women.

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