June 29, 2021 3:11:02 am
Surat police on Monday arrested 24 municipal councillors of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and two AAP-nominated candidates for Municipal Education Board elections, for their alleged involvement in rioting, damaging public property, and threatening BJP leaders and security staff of the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC).
The arrested were produced before the court and were released in the evening, while three more accused are yet to be arrested.
According to police, election to 12 seats of the Surat Municipal Education Board was conducted at SMC’s Sardar Hall on June 25. Elected councillors can vote to elect the member of the Municipal Education Board, which runs 328 schools in Surat city.
Out of 15 committee members, three members were appointed by the government. Candidates supported by the BJP won 10 seats, while independent candidate Rakesh Bhikhadiya, supported by BJP, and AAP candidate Rakesh Hirpara won. Another AAP candidate Ramesh Parmar lost the election.
After the results the same evening, leader of the opposition AAP, Dharmesh Bhanderi, along with AAP councillors and two nominated candidates —Rakesh Hirpara and Ramesh Parmar, allegedly made a ruckus alleging that BJP leaders cheated during the voting. Bhanderi also demanded a recounting, which was turned down by Mayor Hemaliben Boghawala.
On Saturday, SMC security officer, Shailesh Patel, lodged a complaint at the Lalagate police station against 27 AAP councillors and two nominated members. Police registered offences under rioting, damage to public property, creating disturbances during the election process, threatening the security staffers and BJP councillors.
On Monday, police searched AAP offices and later picked up four elected councillors, including two women, from their residence.
Meanwhile, an offline general board meeting was held at the SMC head office in Muglisara in the afternoon. AAP councillors who arrived at the venue were stopped at the main gate and were arrested.
In the absence of AAP councillors, the ruling BJP leaders cleared 44 works that were listed in the general board meeting.
Inspector AA Chaudhary, in charge of Lalgate police station, said, “We arrested 26 councilors and two nominated members. They were released on bail. Three more mentioned in the complaint will be arrested soon.”
AAP state spokesperson Yogesh Jadvani said, “The BJP has committed irregularities in the Municipal Education board election. BJP leaders feared AAP councillors demanding an explanation on this at today’s general board meeting and took police help to arrest our councillors on false charges. The people of Gujarat have seen what the BJP has done… time will come when the people will answer them.”
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