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Cross-complaints by Cong, BJP candidates, denials mark polling day in Danta

Late Sunday night, a number of Congress leaders such as Jignesh Mevani, Pavan Khera and Jagdish Thakor had alleged that Kharadi was attacked by the BJP candidate and his associates in the constituency. They also added that Kharadi had gone missing.

Confirming the complaint registered, Parghi told The Indian Express that it was Kharadi and his associates who had hit the BJP team's vehicle and attacked them. (Representational/File)

A day after the Congress alleged that Kanti Kharadi, its MLA and candidate from the Danta constituency of Banaskantha, was attacked by his rival—Latu Parghi from the BJP, both candidates lodged cross-complaints against each other. Following this, the police have registered offences of rioting, causing accident by rash driving and allied charges under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Motor Vehicle Act against each side.

Late Sunday night, a number of Congress leaders such as Jignesh Mevani, Pavan Khera and Jagdish Thakor had posted on Twitter alleging Kharadi was attacked by the BJP candidate and his associates in the constituency. They also added that Kharadi had gone missing.

A Congress delegation had also lodged a representation in this regard with the Election Commission.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Kharadi filed an FIR with Banaskantha’s Hadad police against Parghi and around 11 of his associates for allegedly attacking him and his supporters near Bamodara village late Sunday.

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Kharadi has alleged that Parghi’s men pelted stones, blocked the road and hit the car of one of his associates from behind when they were passing by the Bamodara village.

When contacted, Hadad police sub-inspector V R Makwana confirmed that Kharadi has registered an FIR against Parghi and others. Makwana added that Parghi, too, has registered an FIR against Kharadi and his associates accusing them of similar offences.

“Both are (cases of) rioting with an accident. Both (the candidates) have lodged cross-complaints. Both (the parties) had come face-to-face and their vehicles had met with an accident. So, both have registered complaints against each other alleging charges like rioting, voluntarily causing hurt, causing an accident by rash driving and criminal intimidation. Both complaints are being investigated by an officer of the rank of Circle Police Inspector,” Makwana said.

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Confirming the complaint registered, Parghi told The Indian Express that it was Kharadi and his associates who had hit the BJP team’s vehicle and attacked them. He also alleged that since his village was close by and they had called their supporters for help, Kharadi and his men escaped into the jungle with the fear of being outnumbered.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission, in a press statement issued Monday in connection with the Congress’s representation, said that following an inquiry, it was found that Kharadi was neither attacked nor kidnapped. “There is no attack or kidnap of Kantibhai Kharadi. The police officers of Banaskantha had contacted Kantibhai Kharadi while asking him to lodge any complaint if he had one. But Kantibhai Kharadi has stated that he has no such desire.”

Quoting Additional Chief Electoral Officer Kuldeep Arya, the statement said, “Following a representation by the Congress after the midnight of December 4, Chief Electoral Officer P Bharathi had instructed the police supervisor of Banaskantha district and district police head to immediately inquire into it and submit a report. Banaskantha police officials had met Kharadi immediately. Kantibhai Kharadi was neither attacked nor kidnapped. This has been informed to Banaskantha district police by Kantibhai Kharadi. Even after a request from the police, he said that he did not desire to lodge a complaint.”

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However, Kharadi refuted EC’s public statement. “I was 100 per cent attacked. I escaped and ran in the jungle for 5-6 hours… I had given my complaint in writing,” he told The Indian Express.

When asked about Kharadi disputing EC’s public statement, Kuldeep Arya said the statement was based on the reply the EC got from the concerned police authorities. Arya also said that if Kharadi was denying it, then he will ask the SP again about the incident.

Arya said, “Why didn’t he (Kharadi) come for the complaint when the SP (Superintendent of Police) went there at the site, brought him to the police station and requested him, “Please give your complaint”. Why didn’t he complain?… It is an authorised reply from the state police nodal as well as the SP Banaskantha. So, I have to believe that reply only…Even if he (Kharadi) is denying, let me ask the SP again.”

Arya added the SP informed him that Kharadi was neither attacked nor kidnapped and that there was some ‘skirmish’ between him and the BJP candidate Parghi.

Meanwhile, replying to the alleged incident, Gujarat BJP Chief C R Paatil said that Kharadi wasn’t injured and that the latter should stop such “stunts”.

Danta is a constituency reserved for Scheduled Tribe communities.

First published on: 05-12-2022 at 23:32 IST
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