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Shots fired in Muktsar district,polling deferred

Following incidents of firing and booth capturing in Karaiwala village in Gidderbaha constituency,which left one person injured,and booth capturing in Buttar Shrin village of Doda constituency,polling for SGPC elections at these two booths were postponed on Sunday.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Patiala |
September 19, 2011 12:49:16 am

Following incidents of firing and booth capturing in Karaiwala village in Gidderbaha constituency — which left one person injured — and booth capturing in Buttar Shrin village of Doda constituency,polling for SGPC elections at these two booths were postponed on Sunday. Allegations and counter allegations by candidates of SAD-Sant Samaj and rivals also flowed thick and fast in these two spots.

Doda,where Gurhisangar is pitted against SAD-Sant Samaj candidate Navtej Singh Kauni,is said to have become a battlefield for the Badals,who are at loggerheads. Manpreet Badal is believed to put his might to support independent candidate Gurhisangar in the SGPC polls.

Badal,the native village of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal,led from the front to violate the norms for SGPC polls. Here,people with shorn hair were seen casting their votes in good numbers — some with impunity,others claiming ignorant of the norm that made them ineligible to vote for the selection of the Mini Parliament of Sikhs. Most of such voters preferred to cast their votes in the morning.

Badal,after casting his vote,responded to media query on the matter by saying that it was an “administrative” issue. “Na main vote banawa,na main vote paawan (Neither I prepare the vote rolls nor I know who casts the votes). It is an administrative matter,” he said.

In Buttar Shrin village in Doda constituency,a group,allegedly accompanied by a DSP-rank officer and his team — a charge denied by Muktsar SSP — captured two booths. More than 200 votes were allegedly polled by the miscreants using force as the poll officials looked on.

Gurhisangar’s supporters blocked vehicular traffic on Bathinda-Muktsar road to register their protest against the booth capturing. Polling at the two booths that were captured has been cancelled and postponed,said Doda returning officer Kamal Kumar.

Skirmishes were also reported at a few other places including Chotian,Smagh,Kauni and Ablu in Muktsar.

In Karaiwala,one Charna Singh sustained a bullet injury on his arm. Accusing SAD-Sant Samaj candidate from Gidderbaha,Gurpal Singh Gora,of opening fire,Charna Singh told The Indian Express over phone from Malout civil hospital: “I am not even a supporter of the Panthic Morcha candidate. I am a member of the People’s Party of Punjab. Gora,accompanied by a number of persons,came to Karaiwala and fired shots,one of which hit me on arm.”

Gora,however,denied the allegations. “This whole thing has been engineered by my opponent Mahen Singh,who feared a defeat by huge margin and wanted to derail the poll process. I have not fired any shot. Two gunmen accompany me. Why will I fire?” Gora claimed,adding that his winning margin will be the “biggest” in SGPC polls.

While Mehan Singh could not be contacted,his aide Santokh Singh accused Gora of “capturing polling booths and opening fire on the tractor trolley of Mahen Singh that was ferrying voters to the polling booth”.

Muktsar SSP Inder Mohan Singh said Charna Singh had called him and alleged that Gora had opened fire on him. “We are verifying the matter,” he said. Gidderbaha SHO Avtar Singh said a case under various sections of the IPC have been registered against 60 to 70 unknown people. However,“at this stage”,neither could say how many shots were fired.

Gidderbaha constituency returning officer Pushpinder Singh said that polling at two booths in Karaiwala was cancelled and stood postponed due to disruption in the poll process.

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