Amritsar/ Patiala/ Jalandhar/ Ludhiana : Incidents of violence marred elections to four civic bodies in the state on Wednesday. While in Amritsar 25 persons — including former mayor Sunil Dutti — were injured during civic body election, in Rasulpur Saida, Patiala, two persons were injured in firing outside a polling booth at ward number 12. In Amristar too, firing was reported from three places and polling was postponed in ward numbers 4 and 5. In Patiala, repolling has been ordered in ward number 27. The repoll is likely to be held on August 12.
Seven persons were injured in Ludhiana’s Sherpur Khurd area. In Patiala’s ward number 36, supporters of two candidates exchanged blows and in ward number 22, police resorted to lathicharge to disperse a mob.In Jalandhar’s ward number 44, Amit, son of Congress candidate Kuldip Mintoo was booked for attacking and injuring a supporter of Sunanda Malhotra, an independent candidate. Gagan Dua, a resident of the ward, was attacked with sharp edged weapons by Amit and his 50-odd supporters. In ward number 29, in Kot Pakshian, Congress candidate Yogesh Chadha and his son Rahul sustained minor injuries after a scuffle between Congress and Akali supporters.
In ward number 5, Amritsar, supporters of Congress candidate Gurjit Singh Aujhal and those of SAD-BJP candidate Harjit Singh clashed with each other, resulting in 12 persons sustaining injuries. In Patiala’s Badungar Basti, Congress councillor Kabir Dass alleged he was thrashed by Akali workers. Skirmishes were also reported from Gumtala village in Amritsar.
Despite receiving 14 complaints pertaining to violence, Amritsar’s deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu claimed that polling was by and large peaceful. In Patiala, an assistant sub-inspector on election duty at booth Number 49 was suspended at the direction of election observer Jaspal Singh. The ASI had allegedly released a miscreant, nabbed during poll-related violence, without taking any action against him.
Media persons too were attacked by supporters of candidates. A Patiala-based scribe Gurnam Aqida alleged that a local MLA threatened him if he reported clash between two political groups. A news agency correspondent Ravinder Singh alleged that in Amritsar Akali leader Manna attempted to kidnap the agency’s camera person Pankaj while they were reporting violence in ward number 5.
In Jalandhar, poll code was violated and candidates and their supporters used their own vehicles to take voters to polling booths. In ward number 35, there were heated arguments between Gurbaksh Lal Mintoo — a close associate of local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia — and independent candidate Joginder Singh Toni. A clash was averted by timely intervention of cops.
To ascertain cases of booth capturing, deputy commissioner of Patiala cum-chief electoral officer DS Grewal said 25 teams of videographers were formed who toured all the polling booths. While the election commission prepared video films of all 58 ‘very sensitive’ and 128 ‘sensitive’ booths in the city, Grewal denied that there were any incidents of booth capturing in Patiala. He said complaints pertaining to booth capturing were found to be false.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders from Amritsar demanded resignation of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on his government’s alleged failure to conduct free and fair polls. "It is the duty of government to ensure citizens exercise their right to franchise,"said former Congress MLA Darbair Lal. TNN