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Clashes, booth capturing mar polling in Malwa

Ferozepur, September 20: Over 36 persons were injured during poll-related violence in this border district. At several places, Akali and Congress workers clashed over the allegations of rigging. Some incidents of stone pelting and firing were reported.

At Dhindsa village, polling was halted for a few hours due to stone pelting by people allegedly owing allegiance to the Congress.

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Akali workers alleged that the Congressmen roughed up their supporters and indulged in booth capturing even as cops remained mute spectators. The Congress workers also allegedly thrashed supporters of Independent candidate Mandeep Kaur. Her husband Gurjit Singh alleged that the Congress workers tried to capture the booth regarding which a video footage was also circulated.

Four persons — Lakhwinder Singh, Karanbir Singh, Balbir Singh and Jagvir Singh — were injured in the incident. Chamkaur Singh Dhindsa, DCC president, denied the allegations.

At Basti Ajij Wali, some unidentified persons fired in the air and broke the window panes of a car belonging to a SAD worker. At Jhoke Harihar, SAD and Congress workers threw stones at each other due to which around 20 persons were injured. Even at Basti Gulab Singh Wali in Mamdot block, SAD and Congress workers clashed due to which polling was halted for an hour.

Muktsar: Nearly 12 persons were injured, 15 vehicles damaged and a few rounds were shot in the air. Some Congressmen allegedly ran away with two ballot boxes and mob tore ballot papers at a number of polling booths.

In Lambi, the situation remained tense. The reports of booth capturing started coming in at 8.45 am. SAD Parkash Singh Badal claimed: “A number of polling booths are being captured and the SSP is not even attending my calls.”

At Mandi Killianwali, three polling booths were allegedly captured, first by Congressmen, and then by Akalis. Both parties accused each other. The poll presiding officers at booth numbers 48, 49 and 50 also admitted that the booths were captured by unidentified persons twice.

Two shots were fired in the air at Bhitiwala village. “Congress workers took away two ballot boxes from a polling booth at Bhitiwala and ballot papers from another booth and polled bogus votes in yet another,” alleged Tejinder Singh Middukhera, SAD’s zila parishad candidate from Killianwali zone.

There were reports of skirmishes between SAD and Congress workers at Tharajwala and Midda villages. At Mann village, SAD workers alleged: “The Congressmen entered all the four polling booths and threatened us to go out. Thereafter, they polled bogus votes.”

At Danewala in Malout, when Sukhbir Badal reached the polling station, it was found locked from inside. “The Congress workers led by Deputy Speaker’s son Aman Bhatti captured booths at Danewala, Bhagsar, Lakhewali, Maha Badhar, Bhangchari, Sammewali and Tarkhanwala villages,” said Harpreet Singh, former MLA.

The situation was almost similar in Muktsar sub-division. Three people were arrested along with a pistol and some cartridges in the town. Further, three fires were shot in the air by some Congressmen at Lambi Dhabh village, where the mob even damaged furniture inside a polling booth. A large number of people even thrashed polling staff at Sangu Dhaun village. Some cars were damaged and stones pelted outside the polling station here.

Moga: Masked youths allegedly tried to capture polling booths at many places in Moga district. At least, two persons were injured in the clashes. The district administration has recommended cancellation of polling at New Rode (Gurupura) village and sought fresh elections.

Sources said at least 50 youths allegedly belonging to the Congress tried to capture a booth at Machike village in Nihalsinghwala, but villagers thwarted their attempt. The youths attacked an SAD worker, Navjot Singh, with sharp weapons. They also damaged some cars parked outside the booth. Independent candidate Darshan Singh Sekhon was also allegedly roughed up by them. A similar incident took place at Demru Khurd village where a group of 50-60 masked youths tried to capture a booth, but the attempt was thwarted by villagers and the police.

District Magistrate Devinder Pal Singh Kharbanda confirmed the incidents and said the polling process was not disturbed. He, however, revealed that some youths managed to capture a booth at New Rode (Gurupur) village. They allegedly cast 44 votes of zila parishad and 149 of panchayat samiti in favour of Congress candidates.

Patiala: Twelve cases of booth capturing were reported in Patiala district in the rural bodies elections. In Bahadargarh and Nabha area, SAD and some AAP workers blocked roads, following which police took them to the nearby police post. They were later released. Similarly, roads were blocked in Fathgarh Channa, Ghanaur and Nabha, where Akalis alleged that the police were hand-in-glove role with the ruling party.

“They barred the entry of voters and only local Congressmen and polling agents polled votes. Our official candidates were also not allowed to visit the polling booths,” alleged former Cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra.

Ludhiana: At Buddhewal village in Sahnewal, two persons sustained injuries in a clash between Akali and Congress workers. SAD MLA Sharanjit Dhillon alleged that the Congress was using muscle power to win elections. In Kakowal village, SAD and Congress workers came to blows.

Source Tribune India

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