INCIDENTS OF violence were reported from many parts of Punjab as civic body polls were held there on Sunday.
Clash in Muktsar
A clash broke out between Akali Dal and Congress workers in the early hours of Sunday in ward nos. 4 and 18 of Muktsar hours before polling was to start. Congress leaders blamed police for “siding with SAD”.
According to the police complaint, SAD worker Harmanjeet Singh alongwith a few others attacked Congress candidate Yadwinder Singh Yadu and his two supporters Rinku Bawa and Sudhir Sharma. Former Congress MLA Karan Brar, who reached the civil hospital, said, “SAD’s goons attacked our workers. We are law abiding citizens. Despite the fact that Congress is in power, cops are siding with SAD. They were near the area of clash but did not stop SAD men from beating Congressmen including the candidate. Three from ward no. 4 are injured. In another incident in ward no. 18, SAD workers Tek Batra Sajan Batra and their supporters attacked our men, they kidnapped two of our workers and injured Congress candidate Manpreet Singh Mani.” Police complaints have been filed in both cases. In Malaut, a Congress candidate from ward no. 26 alleged that the SAD candidate tried to get bogus voting cast in his ward.
Bogus vote claim by BJP candidate
In Sangrur’s Bhawanigarh, Ram Singh, BJP candidate from ward no. 10, came up with a complaint: “I went to cast vote and it had already been cast by someone else. My wife Monica’s vote has already been cast by someone else. No one is listening to us.” SDM Paramjeet Singh however said, “No one came to complain in this connection.”
Farmer protests outside polling booths
In Ahmedgarh and Malerkotla areas, outside many polling booths, farmers staged protests where BJP’s men were sitting, setting up their stall. Randip Singh Deol, BJP district president from Sangrur, said, “We will complain about Ram Singh and his wife’s case Monday morning . The protesters were no one else but Congressmen. However, people have voted for us despite propaganda against us. We fear hanky panky with EVMs in the coming days.”
Booth-rigging allegations in Rampura Phul
In Rampura Phul and Bhagta Bhaika as well, AAP and SAD raised allegations over Congress for booth rigging while in Abohar, after polling was over, area MLA Arun Narang sat on dharna with his party candidates claiming Congress followed unfair means in polling.
In Jalalabad, ‘no pictures in voting list’
In Jalalabad, SAD workers alleged that the voting list distributed had no pictures of voters, due to which there were chances of bogus voting, but no complaint was filed. SAD leader Janmeja Sekhon also alleged malpractices in Ferozepur district.
Not allowed to vote, claim many in Gurharsahai
In Gurharsahai area, many voters complained that they were not allowed to vote. Leader of Opposition Harpal Cheema said, “Bullying by Congress goons was reported from dozens of areas including Patti, Tarn Taran, Rajpura, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Abohar, Jalalabad, Samana, Dhuri and Bhikhiwind.”
He further said, “Realising his personal responsibilities, CM should resign. Our demand to deploy paramilitary forces was not taken seriously and Congress’s goons took law in their hands.”
Finance minister thanks voters for ‘peaceful’ polls
However Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said, “I thank the voters for maintaining peace in the Bathinda Municipal Corporation elections. Peaceful conduct of municipal polls reflects the strong belief of people in democracy.” “In democracy every person has the right to vote as per his/her choice and Congress party has immense faith in democracy,” he added.
The finance minister further said that he visited every booth in Bathinda city, where he met people. He said that Congress is all set to register a massive victory in these polls besides making its mayor in Bathinda as the party is getting full support from the people of Punjab. He said Congress “had made numerous sacrifices for peace and tranquility”. “People of the city voted for peace and he would always be indebted to ensure peaceful conduct of civic polls” he added, and thanked Congress workers.
Congress indulged in booth capturing: SAD
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) alleged that Congress “misused civil and police machinery to capture booths besides unleashing violence against the opposition to intimidate voters during voting for the municipal bodies”.
In a statement released here, former Minister and SAD spokesperson Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said the SAD had already cautioned the State Election Commission about how democracy had been murdered in the run-up to the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections and that Congress goons were expected to indulge in booth capturing and other unfair practices even this time. “Despite this warning, no concrete steps were taken to control the situation and ensure free and fair elections,” he added.
Dr Cheema alleged that Congress goons not only captured booths but also attacked opposition candidates and their supporters wherever they were opposed by the opposition and the general public. Citing incidents, the SAD leader said gun shots were fired in Patti in Tarn Taran district, SAD supporters were injured with sharp weapons in Ropar and Fatehgarh Churian, booths were captured in Muktsar, Rajpura, Samana, Sultanpur Lodhi, Dinanagar, Ferozepur, Bhikiwind and an FIR was registered against SAD leader Prof Virsa singh Valtoha, Gauravdeep Singh Valtoha, son of senior SAD leader Virsa Singh Valtoha, and five others.
He said that similarly police raided the house of SAD candidates Rajinder Singh Jeet from ward no 26 and his wife Jaswinder Kaur in ward number 25 in Khanna and registered a case against thirteen members of the family including her husband. He said that the same was done with Tej Chand Batra, the SAD candidate from ward number 18 in Muktsar who was booked in an abduction case. Dr Cheema said the situation was such that Congress goons openly tossed turbans of SAD workers and let loose a reign of terror but cases were registered against the victims, he alleged.
Dr Cheema said the police also opposed permission for videography in polling booths and no one was allowed to depute videography teams.”The SEC also failed to ensure videography at sensitive places which resulted in large scale booth capturing”.
The SAD leader said the Congress party had repeated what it had done in the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections because it knew it had lost the confidence of the people after failing to fulfill any of the promises made to them. He said the Congress party was even jitterier in the municipal elections because it knew that all facilities were in shambles and people were suffering due to a thirty per cent increase in power tariff and other taxes.
Dr Cheema said the SAD had filed a complaint with all details with the SEC and had demanded countermanding of elections at all places where there had been large scale booth capturing and violent incidents.