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Punjab Panchayat Polls: Stray incidents of violence reported, candidates allege booth capturing at some places

Approximately 80 per cent voters turned up at polling booths to exercise their franchise, the officials said.

India TV News Desk Edited by: India TV News Desk
Chandigarh Updated on: December 30, 2018 23:28 IST
An election officer puts indelible ink mark on the finger

An election officer puts indelible ink mark on the finger of a voter at a polling station during Punjab Panchayat elections, on the outskirts of Amritsar.

Panchayat polls in Punjab witnessed stray incidents of violence on Sunday even as an elderly voter was killed during an alleged booth capturing attempt at a Ferozepur polling station, PTI reported quoting officials. 

Approximately 80 per cent voters turned up at polling booths to exercise their franchise, the officials said.

At some places in Punjab, candidates and their supporters levelled allegations of booth capturing by some miscreants.

Voters had started queuing up outside polling stations at 8 am, braving cold weather, before voting closed at 4 pm to elect sarpanches and panches for 13,276 villages. 

In Muktsar's Badal village, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal along with his son and SAD chief Sukhbir and daughter-in-law and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur cast their votes.

Both Sukhbir and Harsimrat were seen seeking blessings from the former's estranged uncle Gurdas Singh Badal.

Police said stray incidents of violence were reported from different places in the state.

In Ferozepur district, an elderly voter was killed after being hit by the vehicle of some unidentified miscreants during their attempt to capture a booth. They also set the papers kept inside a ballot box on fire, they said. 

About 12-15 unidentified people reached a polling booth at the government primary school in Lakhmir ke Uthar village of Ferozepur's Mamdot block, they said. 

They arrived in an SUV bearing a Maharashtra registration number and allegedly snatched the ballot box from the polling staff. They burnt the ballot papers and when they were leaving, Mohinder Singh, 60, got hit by their vehicle, the police said. 

They left the vehicle behind and fled from the spot. The injured man was rushed to Mamdot civil hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, they said. 

Senior police and police administration officials from the administration and the police including Deputy Commissioner Gurmit Singh Multani, reached the spot and took stock of the situation. 

At Dina Sahib of Moga district's Nihal Singh Wala sub-division, some unidentified miscreants fired some shots outside a polling booth but no one was injured, the police said.

In other areas of the district, minor incidents of scuffle between some villagers were reported, they said.

In Jalalabad, a ballot box was damaged by some miscreants and in a village in Tarn Taran district, an argument broke out between Congress and SAD supporters and it was followed by a scuffle in which two people sustained head injuries. 

They were admitted to a hospital at Bhojia village, SSP Darshan Singh Mann said, adding the incident occurred away from the polling booth.

In another incident in the district, camera equipment of an electronic media journalist was damaged by some miscreants when he was covering the polling process outside a booth at Tarn Taran-Patti Road. 

The SSP said that an FIR was lodged against the four accused, who were identified. He said entire incident was recorded by other journalists. The accused were yet to be arrested, he said.

Stray incidents of violence were also reported in Tarn Taran district at Soul and Malian villages. In Amritsar district, at Naushera village's Ram Nagar polling booth, incidents of scuffle were reported. 

Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said an incident of snatching of ballot papers was reported at Lidey village falling in the Harsa Chinna Block which was being probed.

SAD workers led by senior leader Sucha Singh Langah blocked a road in a village in Gurdaspur district, alleging booth capturing by Congress workers. 

In Faridkot district, a candidate for sarpanch's post Raman Singh, owing allegiance to the Congress, alleged that some miscreants damaged his car in Hari Wala village but he escaped unhurt.

A minor clash took place between SAD and Congress supporters in a village in Patiala district and a stray incident of violence took place in Rupnagar district as well.

Post-poll violence was also reported from some places, including Bathinda and Patiala districts. In Jalal village of Bathinda, supporters of candidates clashed and there were reports of gunshots being fired in the air, they said.

The officials said that before the polls, around 4,363 sarpanches (village headman) and 46,754 panches (village council members) had already been declared elected unopposed.

Counting of votes will begin after the conclusion of polling.

As many as 13,276 sarpanchs and 83,831 panchs will be elected for 13,276 villages. Around 1.27 crore voters are eligible to cast votes in the polling.

The State Election Commission has set up 17,268 polling booths and 86,340 personnel have been deputed on duty. 

The polls were held across the state's rural belt amid tight security arrangements, the officials said.

In some places, the elderly could be seen being carried on cots to reach the polling booths. In Fatehgarh Sahib's Jabhal village, a bride cast vote in her wedding attire and at some other places, brides and grooms reached the booth to exercise their franchise before solemnising their marriage.

Watch: Candidates allege booth capturing at some places in Punjab panchayat polls

(With inputs from PTI)

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