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THE WEEK AHEAD

NEW DELHI : And Now The Punjab

June 18, 1991

Voters in insurgency-torn Punjab are being asked to brave death threats to create the northern Indian state's first democratically elected government in four years during polling set for Saturday.

Elections in Punjab were deliberately delayed until after the rest of the country's 514 million voters had cast their ballots so that the Indian Army could devote its full attention to protecting the state's voters. Sikh militants, who see the voting as a threat to their decade-long campaign for a separate Sikh homeland, have vowed to use violence and murder to enforce an election boycott.

The militants have already assassinated at least 20 candidates for state and national offices in just the last six weeks. Over the weekend, two Sikh hit squads massacred 76 train passengers.

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