Wanted in a case of murder, and absconding since an FIR was registered after six deaths were reported, due to drinking spurious allegedly distributed by her earlier this month in the run-up to the polls, the candidate, Babli Devi, won the election for village pradhan of Shivnagar, in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar district, by a margin of one vote, according to results announced on Thursday.
She was arrested soon after — while she was celebrating her victory, the police said.
Babli Devi was accused of distributing illicit liquor in her village to influence voters, resulting in the deaths.
The panchayat polls were held on September 26.
According to the result for Shivnagar — a seat reserved for Scheduled Caste women — available on the Uttarakhand State Election Commission’s website, Babli Devi polled 859 votes, just one vote more than her nearest opponent, Swati Chauhan, who got 858.
Soon after the result was announced, a team from Pathri police station reached the village and arrested Babli Devi — on the basis of an FIR invoking IPC Section 302 (murder). The case was registered at the police station on September 11 against Babli, her husband Bijendra Kumar and the latter’s brother, Naresh.
Bijendra was arrested on September 11. Babli and Naresh were reported absconding.
“We arrested Babli Devi on Thursday after she won the village pradhan election from Shivnagar,” Pawan Dimri, station officer (SO) of Pathri, confirmed. “She was wanted in the deaths of six people, who allegedly consumed spurious liquor (allegedly distributed by Babli and her family). After arresting Bijendra, we kept looking for Babli Devi and Naresh until September 23 but thereafter got involved in the panchayat elections, and subsequently counting of votes.”
Around 10.30 am on Thursday, Dimri said, police received information that Babli was in the village, celebrating her victory. “We reached there and arrested her. This is the second arrest in the case. Naresh is still absconding,” he said.
At least six people had died in a span of three days, until September 11, after consuming spurious liquor allegedly distributed by Babli and her family members. While residents claimed the toll was eight, officials had said two of them died of other reasons.
According to some local residents, after Bijendra’s arrest, his father, Suraj Bhan Chauhan, campaigned for Babli Devi. People from the Chauhan community also came out in her support — they alleged that almost all candidates distributed liquor but action was taken only against Babli and her family. As a result, even though families of the deceased were angry, many villagers voted for Babli Devi, locals said.