Updated: July 11, 2021 6:54:50 am
Violence was reported from at least 18 districts of Uttar Pradesh during elections for panchayat block chiefs on Saturday, with Etawah seeing stone-pelting and firing at Barhpura block. Police said they were looking into a video of the Etawah ASP (City) saying BJP leaders had brought bombs and slapped him.
ADG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said instructions had been issued to officers to keep a strict watch in these districts, particularly the victory processions following the results.
About the Etawah video, the ADG said, “We have instructed officers to take action at all the places where incidents were reported. The incident in Etawah will also be probed, and an FIR lodged.”
In the video, ASP Prashant Kumar Prasad is heard saying, “Sir, they brought stones. They slapped me too. They brought bombs, BJP people, the MLA and district chief.”
Asked if BJP workers and leaders would be booked, Etawah SSP Brijesh Kumar Singh said, “We will see the footage and whoever has done this will face action.”
BJP state spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said the authorities had taken cognizance of the incidents at both Etawah, and another at Unnao, where a journalist was beaten up allegedly by a mob including BJP workers. “A fair investigation will be done. And whoever is found guilty will face action as per law. No one has the right to take the law in their hands and it doesn’t matter if they belong to the ruling party,” Tripathi said.
The Etawah SSP said polling was happening smoothly at Barhpura block when some people tried to come closer than 200 metres to the polling booth. “When they were stopped at the barricades, the crowd pelted stones and opened fire. Policemen acted promptly and ensured that the mob dispersed… Seven cartridges were recovered from the spot.”
Singh said they had seized video footage of the incident and will take action based on it.
Apart from Etawah, violence and clashes were reported from Unnao, Hathras, Amethi, Ballia, Siddharth Nagar, Kanpur, Mau, Hamirpur, Amroha, Lucknow, Sultanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Aligarh, Firozabad, Pratapgarh, Kanpur Dehat, Chandauli.
In Unnao, a journalist alleged he was beaten up by Chief Development Officer (CDO) Divyanshu Patel and BJP workers while he was reporting from a polling centre in Bangarmau area. In a video that surfaced on social media, Krishna Tewari (28), who said he works as a cameraperson for a TV channel, was seen being hit by a person in official riot gear in presence of police. Tewari identified the officer in riot gear as Patel.
Tewari said some people had arrived in a Scorpio car and beaten him up and broken both his mobile phones. “Several party workers were roaming around, but police didn’t catch anyone. After that, the CDO sir came along with force. The Circle Officer was also there. They shoved and pushed me. I told him I am a journalist, but he (the CDO) started beating me up. He abused me too.”
Tiwari said BJP workers wearing scarves were also part of the crowd that hit him. “No action was taken against them. They are roaming around freely.”
A protest was held by journalists in Unnao district at Miyaganj after the incident.
Lucknow (range) Inspector General Laxmi Singh said a complaint had been submitted by Tiwari and the matter will be investigated.
Despite calls and text messages, Patel could not be reached for a comment.
In Hathras district’s Sikandra Rao block, supporters of a candidate allegedly indulged in vandalism and rioting. Hathras SP Vineet Jaiswal said, “When polling was happening, as candidates Sudama Devi and Abhay Pratap appeared to be locked in a tie, supporters of Devi broke the barricades and rushed to the block office. When they were stopped, they pelted stones and fired at policemen. They also vandalised buses. With use of light force, they were pushed away. Some rioters were arrested and have been booked.”
Jaiswal denied claims by Devi’s son Devendra Yadav, “a history sheeter”, that he had been shot at by Pratap’s supporters.
In Bahraich district, two policemen, including a station in-charge, were suspended in connection with the killing of a Block Development Committee (BDC) member’s relative. Mayaram, the brother-in-law of BDC member Yadurai Devi, was killed on Thursday, while trying to prevent an alleged attempt by a poll candidate’s husband and supporters to abduct Devi, a police officer said.
Sudhir Yagyasaini, the main accused in the case, is the husband of Sarita Yagyaseni, who was backed by the BJP for the Shivpur block chief’s post. She won in the elections held on Saturday, getting 70 votes against 50 for her rival, who was backed by the Samajwadi Party.
According to police, Sudhir, along with supporters and a gunner, tried to abduct Devi to get her vote. The 10 people booked include a constable.
On Friday, Bahraich SP Sujata Singh had said the National Security Act would be invoked against the culprits.
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