Allegations of violence, EVM rigging marred polls in Punjab; Himachal and Chandigarh remained peaceful

Amid allegations of rigging, incidents of violence and EVM snags marred Lok Sabha elections in Punjab while Himachal Pradesh and Union Territory, Chandigarh, witnessed peaceful polls on Sunday

Allegations of violence, EVM rigging  marred polls in Punjab; Himachal and Chandigarh remained peaceful

Bipin Bhardwaj

Amid allegations of rigging, incidents of violence and EVM snags marred Lok Sabha elections in Punjab while Himachal Pradesh and Union Territory, Chandigarh, witnessed peaceful polls on Sunday. Besides minor incidents of scuffles and clashes, incidents of violence were reported in Khadur Sahib, Bathinda and Gurdaspur constituencies of Punjab. The Punjab polled for 13 Lok Sabha seats, Himachal Pradesh for four and Chandigarh for one in the last phase of general elections.

A Congress worker was reportedly stabbed to death with a sharp-edged weapon in Sarli village of the Tarn Taran district that falls under Khadur Sahib Parliamentary constituency, an Akali Dal worker was injured in a clash between supporters of Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Bathinda and an Akali workers was wounded in an firing incident in Talwandi Sabo. The Police later booked a Congress leader Khushbaz Jattan after Akali workers staged a protest.

According to reports, Bunty Singh (30), a Congress worker was stabbed to death by some Congress supporters in Sarli village on Sunday morning. Family members of the deceased alleged that certain Congress workers stabbed him to death while the former was on his way back to home after casting his vote. The Tarn Taran Senior Superintendent of Police Kuldip Singh Chahal, however, claimed that the murder was a fall out of a personal rivalry and could not be related to the poll violence.

In Gurdaspur’s Kot Pir Mohammad village, three Congress workers were injured in a group clash between the Congress and the SAD supporters. Similarly an Akali worker was injured in a group clash in Bathinda. Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a SAD candidate, accused her rival and Congress candidate Amarinder Singh Raja Warring of indulging in violence and rigging the election.

BJP candidate and union minister Hardeep Singh Puri also alleged that Congress workers virtually captured the polling booth in the outskirts of Amritsar. This resulted in a scuffle among the BJP and Congress workers following which the polling process was disrupted for almost 20 minutes.

There are reports of clashes Ealwala village in Sangrur and Jalalabad in Ferozepur constituency from where SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal is in the election frey.

Technical glitched were also reported in EVMs at several places including Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Samana and Moga.

Out of 13 seats, in Punjab four constituencies comprising Bathinda, Patiala, Ferozepur and Gurdaspur are hot seats. In Bathinda union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a SAD candidate, is facing Congress candidate Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, a former All Indian Youth congress president. Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Punjab Ekta Party candidate and former Congress leader, and Baljinder Kaur of AAP are also giving a tough fight to Mrs Badal at her home field.

Its is a triangular contest in Patiala, the hometown of Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh from where his wife and former union minister Preneet Kaur, a Congress candidate, is facing sitting MP Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi and SAD candidate Surjit Singh Rakhra, a SAD nominee.

Former Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal is in the field from the Ferozepur Lok Sabha seat this time. He is getting a tough fight from Sher Singh Ghubaya, a Congress candidate who after quitting SAD had joined the Congress ahead Lok Sabha elections.

Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar has locked horn with BJP candidate Bollywood actor Sunny Deol from the Gurdaspur seat. The stakes of both the candidates are very high on this border and most sensitive seat that shares its borders with Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

Peaceful polling in Himachal and Chandigarh

The hill state witnessed a peaceful polling for four Lok Sabha seats on Sunday with a turnout of 66.35% till 5 pm which is comparatively higher that 64.45% of the 2014 general elections in the state.

The world’s highest polling station in Tashigang village of Himachal Pradesh’s tribal Lahaul and Spiti district has recorded 132% turnout, a government official said.

Two Parliamentary constituencies -Mandi and Hamirpur- saw interesting contests on Sunday. On Mandi seat, Aashray Sharma, a grandson of former union minister Pandit Sukh Ram is Congress choice against BJP’s Ram Swaroop Sharma, a sitting MP. Since Mandi is the home district of state Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur who sweated it out to ensure the victor of BJP candidate while former CM Virbhadra Singh devoted full time to seek votes for Aashray Sharma.

Three-time MP Anurag Singh Thakur, a son of former two time state chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal is facing Congress candidate Ram Lal Thakur, a close associate if Virbhadra Singh.

The voters of Geu village, located in Lahaul and Spiti district on the Sino-India border in Himachal Pradesh, however, boycotted the poll to lodge their protest against the state government that, they alleged, ‘failed’ to find a permanent solution to prevent the frequent floods they face. Located at an altitude of 10,000 feet and around 350 km from state capital Shimla, the villagers claim to have been demanding resettlement, but their demands remained unheard.

Election process remained peaceful in the Union Territory of Chandigarh that polled for one seat on Sunday. There was a triangular contest among former union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress, sitting MP Kirron Kher of BJP and former union minister Harmohan Dhawan, an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate.

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