CHANDIGARH: There were clashes at various places across the state between the ruling Congress and the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) workers in the zila parishads and panchayat samitis elections held today.
Sources said that shots were fired at Dulewal village in Bathinda as both Congress and SAD workers clashed. As three rounds were fired due to which a child was injured. It was not known as to who opened fire while the voting process was on.
At Midda village also in Bathinda there were reports of a car being damaged and also another vehicle was damaged at Killianwali village. The police also rounded up ten people with weapons and cartridges from Manjinder Singh Bittu's hotel in Muktsar. Bittu is the son of Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh and is contesting the Zila Parishad election from Udekaran zone.
Also there were clashes in Ferozepur, Tarantarn, Dera Bassi and Rajasansi near Amritsar as it was alleged that fake voters casted their ballot. Both Congress and SAD alleged rigging at each other. There were reports from other places where rival Akali and Congress workers have resorted to stone pelting and physical confrontation.
The police are facing tough time in controlling rival groups. Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal along with his son and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal toured several villages in his Lambi constituency and alleged booth capturing by Congress leaders.
"Congress fears a rout in the elections and is resorting to violence in order to tilt the scales in its favour. I have seen outsiders with sticks and other weapons in the villages,'' said Badal. Badal also casted his vote at his native Badal village.
The polling for the zila parishads and panchayat samitis began in Punjab on today morning amid tight security arrangements, A total of 354 zila parishad members and 2,900 panchayat samite members were going to be elected in these polls. There are 22 zila parishads and 150 panchayat samitis in the state. Already thirty three candidates were earlier elected unopposed to various zila parishads and 369 nominees were declared elected unopposed to the panchayat samitis. There are a total of 1,27,87,395 registered voters, comprising 60,99,053 women and 97 third-gender voters.
A total of 17,268 polling booths have been set up in the state and 35 observers have been appointed to ensure a peaceful election. Around 50,000 Punjab Police personnel have been deployed across the state in view of the polls. The counting of votes will take place on September 22.
Meanwhile SAD has decided to approach Punjab and Haryana high court to protect the democratic right to vote and contest in the polls which was virtually denied in the Zila Parishad and Samiti polls which were rigged on large scale by the Congress goons sponsored by legislators and ministers under police protection. Party's generaltary Bikram Sigh Majithia and senior vice president Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema claimed that 62 polling were captured besides Congress men resorting to bogus voting, large scale violence and threatening the presiding officers with their muscle power.
"Such was wide spread mayhem that former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh had to rush polling booths in his constituency where the presiding officers confirmed before media that Congress leaders had stormed the booth and he was a helpless spectator", said Majithia. The Akali leaders said that the State Election Commission has forfeited his authority as he miserably failed to conduct free and fair elections and had little control of the state machinery and police apparatus which let itself to be abused under the Congress ministers.
Majithia said one returning officer was caught on video camera stamping ballot papers in favour of Congress and the video has gone viral but the state election commission failed to take cognizance of these developments. In Dera Bassi , the ballot papers received by the presiding officer were already stamped in favour of Congress.