BSP Leader, Hugged By Man Who Set Himself Ablaze During TV Debate, Dies

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LucknowA leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), embraced by a spectator who set himself ablaze on a live television debate in Uttar Pradesh, has died of burn injuries, the politician's family said on Saturday.

The politician, Kamruzzama Fauji, died late on Friday in hospital after suffering burns to 75 per cent of his body, the family said.

The election show on national TV channel Doordarshan was being recorded in a park on Monday in Sultanpur, a town about 160 kilometres (100 miles) from Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow.

A man, identified by the police as Durgesh Kumar Singh, emerged from a crowd of about 150 onlookers, doused himself in petrol and then grabbed the local leader of Mayawati's BSP, engulfing the pair in flames.  

Mr Singh, who suffered 95 per cent burns, died shortly after the incident, police said.

Police have not come up with any motive for the attack on the politician who was a father of nine children.

But Khalikurzama, the elder brother of Mr Fauji, called the attack "politically motivated" and demanded "a proper probe".

India's numerous television channels are holding nightly debate shows during the nation's staggered nine-phase parliamentary election. The debates are often staged in villages and towns with politicians taking questions in front of local voters.

The election, the world's biggest, will end May 16; many opinion polls have given Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) an edge over Congress.

The show Monday which featured five local politicians was just ending when the attack took place.

Two other local politicians on the show suffered minor burn injuries while trying to douse the flames engulfing the two other men.

"This man suddenly came on the stage, poured petrol on himself and set himself on fire before tightly hugging one of the political guests," photographer Pankaj Kumar Gupta told AFP after the incident.

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