Wednesday, February 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

17 die in poll violence
JD(U) leader killed; 60 to 75 pc turnout
Tribune News Service and agencies

NEW DELHI, Feb 22 (UNI) — Seven booth-grabbers, three security personnel and Janata Dal (United) leader Ghulam Rasool were among the 17 persons killed in Bihar and Manipur today in the final phase of the poll for four state legislative assemblies.

Thirteen of the killings occurred in north Bihar, where 65 per cent of the 19 million voters exercised their franchise for 108 assembly seats.

An estimated 60 to 75 per cent polling was recorded in 307 constituencies in the four states, the Election Commission said today.

Zakir Miyan, a criminal who figured in television serial “India’s Most Wanted”, was among the seven booth-grabbers killed in the Bettiah constituency when they stormed a booth in West Champaran district of Bihar.

Zakir, who was carrying a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head, and others were trying to rig the poll in favour of Zakir’s brother Shamim contesting as an Independent.

While violence marred both Bihar and Manipur polling today, Orissa and Haryana came in for special mention for the peaceful manner in which the polling took place.

The Chief Election Commissioner, Dr M.S. Gill complimented Haryana, where an estimated 70 per cent of the 1.1 crore voters, exercised their franchise armed with identity cards, half of them electronically.

“Haryana has become the new model for the country in the new century where (electronic voting) machines and identity cards were used extensively for the first time,’’ Dr Gill said.

In the last phase of polling across 108 constituencies in Bihar, seven persons attempting to capture a booth in Bettiah Assembly constituency were killed by the police. Armed with shoot-at-sight orders, the Bihar Military police shot armed criminals belonging to notorious Zakir Hussain gang. The gang leader was also shot dead. They were attempting to forcibly stamp ballot papers in favour of the gang leader’s brother Shamim, an independent candidate.

Two persons were killed in East Champaran district when they fired at each other in a market place while a woman was killed after the police opened fire in Mirganj when supporters of the Samata Party and CPM hurled bombs at each other.

The CEC said that the police was also on the lookout for Mr Sadhu Yadav, brother of the Bihar Chief Minister, Mrs Rabri Devi, who is contesting from Gopalganj. He said Mr Yadav had forcibly entered a police station in the area and carted away 10 arrested persons in a police vehicle.

There was just one policeman on guard at the station with the rest deployed for the poll. Dr Gill said that the EC might order repoll in about 1,500 polling stations and complimented the Bihar police for performing their task.

In Manipur, where extremists threatened to disrupt poll process, nearly 72 per cent of the 6.7 lakh electorate exercised their franchise in the second and final phase of the polling for 60 assembly constituencies. Today, polling was held in 32 constituencies.

Three paramilitary personnel were killed and nine injured when militants attacked Manipur state Congress party candidate from Khundrakpam constituency in Ikou Bazar. The EC might order repoll in nearly a dozen polling booths.

Polling in the remaining 77 constituencies of the 147-member assembly in Orissa saw a turnout of 60 per cent of the 1.29 crore electorate.

SAHARSA (Bihar): Mrs Lovely Anand, high-profile Bihar Peoples Party (BPP) leader and candidate from Saharsa assembly segment, was allegedly attacked by rival political group near booth number 215 here during polling in Bihar on Tuesday.

Official sources said a complaint had been lodged with the local police station in this connection.

BPP’s polling agent Randhir Kumar Sinha had alleged before the Election Commission that the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) activists masterminded this attack. He said timely intervention by Mrs Anand’s security guards saved the situation.


Stray cases of violence, bogus voting in Haryana
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 22 — Out of the 11.1 million voters, nearly 68 per cent voters today exercised their franchise to elect the 90-member Assembly in Haryana. The polling was peaceful barring stray incidents of intimidation, bogus voting and some violence.

The Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Bhaskar Chatterjee, told TNS that the percentage of polling would vary between 65 per cent and 75 per cent in different areas. ‘‘It would be safe to say that the percentage was about 68. We are waiting for detailed reports and the picture would be clear only by midnight’’, he said. The CEO thanked the polling officials, administration and police for good work.

Tribune reporters from different places add: At Chandigarh, Mr Bhaskar Chatterjee said that in a polling booth at Madina village under the Meham Assembly constituency polling was suspended after some hooligans tried to tamper the electronic voting machine installed in the booth. A detailed report about the incident, which took place in the afternoon, was still awaited.

Mr Chatterjee said the use of the voter identity card by the electorate varied from district to district. The maximum use of the identity card was reported from Ambala district where almost 75 per cent of the voters used the card. In the entire state at least 60 per cent of the voters reportedly made use of the I-card. the most-used document by the voters after the I-card was the ration card, he added.

Reports from Karnal said that a unique feature of today’s polling was while villagers enthusiastically participated in the elections, urban voters remained indifferent and kept themselves aloof from process. In posh areas of Karnal like the Urban Estate, Sector 6 and Niyayapuri, only about 40 per cent of the voters exercised their franchise.

Reports from Rohtak said an incident of booth capturing and a clash between supporters of the INLD and the Congress at Chamerian village marred the otherwise peaceful polling in all the nine Assembly segments that form part of the Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency. Former sarpanch Umed Singh and his son, Ashok, sustained multiple injuries when they were allegedly attacked by three persons at Chamerian in the Kiloi Assembly constituency.

The Returning Officer of Meham Assembly constituency has recommended at booth No. 152 in Madina village, which the Presiding Officer said was captured by supporters of a candidate. Madina is the native village of Congress candidate Anand Singh Dangi and an Independent, Mr Sunil alias Kallu.

The presiding officer of booth No. 142 in the same village was changed as he was found wanting in discharging his duties by an election observer.

Reports from Jind said nearly 70 per cent voters cast votes in all six constituencies in the district.

According to reports received here, 76 per cent voters exercised their franchise in Narwana Assembly constituency, 65 per cent in the Jind constituency, 75 per cent in the Uchana constituency, 70 per cent in Safidon constituency, 70 per cent in the Rajound constituency and 68 per cent in the Julana constituency.

The Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, is contesting from Narwana while the former Congress chief, Mr Birender Singh is seeking re-election from Uchana.

Reports from Hisar spoke about 70 per cent polling in the district. Polling was, by and large, peaceful.

A UNI report says that police in Hisar registered a case under sections 132 of the Representation of People Act and 353 IPC against industrialist-turned politician Om Prakash Jindal contesting the Assembly seat as the Congress candidate on a report lodged by Returning Officer Subjhash Chander Mehta, who in his report alleged that Mr Jindal had assaulted him by catching him by the neck.

Mr Jindal, on the other hand, charged Mr Mehta with adopting a partisan attitude and allowing his rival candidate, Mr Hari Singh Saini’s supporters to cast votes without identification.

The police also registered a case against a supporter of Mr Jindal.A report from Bhiwani said 66 per cent polling was recorded here. The highest polling was in Tosham (72 per cent) from where Mr Surender Singh was contesting. At Bhiwani town, from where Mr Bansi Lal is seeking election, the polling was 62 per cent.

Reports from Sirsa said that polling in the district was peaceful barring isolated incidents in the Sirsa constituency. The Rori constituency, from where Chief Minister Chautala is contesting, recorded 85 per cent polling, which was absolutely peaceful. For a change in several villages workers of various parties displayed no bitterness.

In the rest of the constituencies of the district, Dabwali, Sirsa, Ellenabad and Darba Kalan, the tentative polling percentage was nearly 70 per cent.

However, the police burst several tear gas shells and made a light lathi charge to dispurse agitating Congressmen who had gheraoed the Sirsa city police station in the evening.

The Congressmen were protesting against the ‘‘illegal’’ detention of Mr Rahul Setia, a prominent local party leader and son-in-law of Mr Lachhman Dass Arora, a former minister and Congress candidate from Sirsa and two Punjab police guards.

Congressmen claim that at least 20 persons suffered injuries in the lathi charge before which there was an exchange of brickbats between the mob and the police.

The police has arrested six persons, including Mr Arora, Mr Bhagwan Dass, Punjab Congress MLA from Sunam; Mr Kuka Singh, an advocate; Mr Setia; Mr Kanwal Minjrawali and Mr Anand Biyani.

Reports from Panipat said at least eight persons were injured, two of them seriously, when supporters of the Congress and the INLD clashed at a polling booth in Patti Kalyana village in the Samalkha Assembly segment. The two who sustained head injuries and were said to be in a serious condition were Sanjay, an INLD supporter and Paley Ram, a Congress supporter. The supporters attacked each other with sharp-edged weapons and iron rods. Both groups alleged each other of trying to capture a booth and indulge in bogus voting. Among the other injured were Ram Kishan, Surender (fractured arm), Naresh (fractured arm), Roshan Lal, Bhupinder, Vinod, all of Patti Kalyana village.

In a separate incident last night, the police booked a former Education Minister, Mr Om Prakash Jain, his brother, Mr Ram Bhaj Jain, Mr Vatsal Singla and Mr Jain’s gunman, Ramesh on charges of rioting armed with a deadly weapon, attempt to murder and criminal intimidation under Sections 148, 149, 307 and 506 of the IPC and the Arms Act.

They have been booked following firing of an aerial shot by the gunman of Mr Jain in the city police station apprehending threat to Mr Jain from supporters of a rival group. In a counter FIR lodged on the complaint of Mr Om Prakash Jain’s nephew, Mr Sanjay Jain, the police has registered a case against Congress leader, Mukesh Tuteja, Surender Kala, Ranveer and Joginder Swamy for allegedly rioting armed with a deadly weapon and criminal intimidation. In his complaint, Mr Sanjay Jain has alleged that the accused attacked their vehicle and damaged it at Noorwala village last night.

Meanwhile, in the Kailana Assembly segment in Sonepat, a polling agent of the Congress sustained head injuries when he was allegedly assaulted by supporters of a rival group in Piplikhera village, which is the native village of INLD nominee, Mr Ved Singh Malik.

Mr Rajiv Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, Yamunanagar, said that polling was very peaceful and no untoward incident took place in the entire district. The percentage of voters in the rural areas was high as compared to urban areas. Meanwhile, a number of voters of Yamunanagar have complained that they have been, deprived of their voting right as their names were not in voters’ list.

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