Violence across Punjab as panchayat polls are heldMay 13th, 2008 - 12:29 am ICT by admin
Chandigarh, May 12 (IANS) Incidents of violence, including clashes between workers of the ruling Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine, marred voting in Punjab’s panchayat polls Monday. One opposition Congress worker was killed and dozens of Congress and ruling Akali Dal-BJP workers were injured at various places in the violence.
In the border district of Tarn Taran, a Congress worker, Gurjant Singh, was stabbed near Khadoor Sahib by Akali Dal workers. He died later.
Five other Congress workers were also injured in the clash. Four Akali workers were arrested following the violence.
Workers of the ruling alliance Akali Dal-BJP clashed at Daburjee near Amritsar Sunday night leading to injuries to over a dozen workers. Most of them were BJP workers who had to be admitted to hospital.
Supporters of BJP legislator from Amritsar Anil Joshi clashed with those of Akali legislator from Tarn Taran Harmit Singh Sandhu. The Akali supporters set the BJP legislator’s vehicle on fire before the police intervened.
Joshi was also injured in the clash in which firing took place openly.
The Punjab chief minister rushed to the government hospital in Amritsar to know the well-being of the injured BJP workers to diffuse the tense situation.
A case was registered by the police but no arrests were made.
The incident is likely to further strain relations between the ruling alliance partners. Both sides have been trading charges in the run-up to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) polls.
Punjab police officials admitted Monday that clashes took place at various places and small firearms and other crude weapons were used.
The Congress demanded cancellation of the zila parishad and panchayat elections alleging that the ruling Akali-BJP combine resorted to large-scale violence, booth-capturing and intimidation.
In Patiala district, the sub-divisional magistrate of Nabha had to lock the polling station after Akali workers captured it and were casting votes forcibly. The SDM took away the entire polling material.
A police spokesman said that Congress workers entered a polling booth in Sultanpur village near Patiala and took away the ballot box. They later threw the ballot box into the village pond.
Firing incidents were reported from Ludhiana, Bathinda, Moga, Gurdaspur and some other district also.
At most places, the voting was between 55 to 70 percent.
A Punjab police spokesman claimed that elections for 20 zila parishads and 141 panchayat samitis were held “peacefully”.
Nearly 50,000 Punjab police personnel were deployed for poll duty at 12,288 polling stations and 17,021 polling booths.
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