Sunday, March 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

CRPF in Jalalabad; BJP to boycott repoll
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Jalalabad, March 15
Even as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel have been deployed in ward number 9 and 12 for conducting a free and fair repoll tomorrow for the Municipal Council elections in these two wards, the BJP leadership has decided to boycott the same in protest against the large-scale booth-capturing by hooligans, with the active support of a section of those who mattered in the state government affairs and the policemen, on March 9 when polling was held for 15 wards in this town located near the Indo-Pak border.

The repoll and deployment of CRPF in ward number 9 and 12 of this town and some wards of Abohar and Fazilka was ordered by the State Election Commissioner (SEC), Mr C.L. Bains, after getting reports pertaining to large-scale booth capturing and partisan role of the police in some pockets during the poll on March 9. The SEC has also ordered videography of the repoll.

Interestingly, the state government did not bother to deploy the CRPF in Abohar, Fazilka and this town of Ferozepore district on the eve of Municipal Council elections held on March 9 despite the fact that the SEC had also issued an order in this connection to the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra. Even the state government failed to appoint an SSP rank police officer (Outside Ferozepore district) on the eve of the Municipal Council elections for maintaining law and order, as ordered by SEC.

Now acting on the order of SEC, the state government had appointed three observers, two for ward number 9 and 12 of Jalalabad town and one for ward number 25 of Abohar apart from deploying the CRPF. Mr Satish Chandra, Director, Food and Supply, Punjab and Mr Roshan Sunkaria, Director, Technical Education, Punjab, have been appointed observers for Jalalabad town and Mr Darbara Singh Guru has been appointed observer for Abohar town.

Mr Prem Valecha, President, local Municipal Council and senior BJP leader, who also contested the election from ward number 9, said they had decided to boycott the elections, as there was no use of deploying CRPF personnel now. He added that when the CRPF deployment was required on March 9, the state government defied the order to extend favour to the Congress candidates. he added that hooligans with the active support of a section of Congress leaders and policemen captured all the booths of all the 15 wards of this town of March 9 and ultimately won elections in 13 wards.

He asked whether the Congress government of Punjab would make it clear to the people why they were denied their right to exercise their franchise on the eve of the Municipal Council elections. he added that thousands of voters got a rude shock when they came to know that their votes had already been cast on March 9. he said instead of indulging in booth capturing the Congress government should nominate its own men as municipal councillor as it did not believe in democracy.

Mr Raminder Singh, District Electoral Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, when contacted, said earlier the CRPF was not deployed in three towns of this district on the eve of the Municipal Council elections despite the fact that SEC had ordered for the same as it was the decision of the state government. He added that now the state government had decided to deploy the CRPF as per the order of the SEC so it had been deployed.


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