M A I N   N E W S

Violence mars Punjab civic poll
Tribune Reporters

Baghapurana, September 18
About 50 persons were injured, three of them seriously, as large-scale violence marred polling to 15 wards of the local Nagar Panchayat here today.

Violent clashes between Congress and SAD workers took place in different wards, as the police became a “mute spectator”. Firearms and sharp-edged weapons were openly used in brawls and the polling had to be suspended for about half an hour in various polling booths.

Miscreants in action during the Nagar Panchayat poll in Baghapurana on Sunday; (right) An injured SAD worker. Miscreants in action during the Nagar Panchayat poll in Baghapurana on Sunday; (right) An injured SAD worker. — Photos by Iqbal Singh

The official vehicle of the SAD MLA from Baghapurana, Mr Sadhu Singh Rajeana, was fired at and damaged by miscreants. The violence began from Ward No.1 around 2 pm when former Congress minister Darshan Singh Brar had an altercation with some SAD workers over voting. Sources said the Akali workers reportedly hit the former minister’s son, Mr Kamaljeet Singh, with some object and injured him.

The infuriated Congress workers then retaliated and allegedly ransacked their tents erected outside polling booths, besides damaging their vehicles forcing them to run away. Ward No. 2 also witnessed workers of both parties clash using ‘kirpans’ and ‘lathis’.

The polling had to be stopped in Ward No.1 at 2 pm and at Ward No.2 at 2.30 pm. Reports of violence were also received from ward numbers 9, 11, and 12. Two Congress workers and an Akali worker had been admitted to a local hospital. Sources said about 15 vehicles were damaged in clashes between workers of both parties. Akali MLAs Sadhu Singh Rajeana and Tota Singh alleged that the Congress workers indulged in violence led by Mr Darshan Singh Brar.

They sought the cancellation of elections and re-polling to the Nagar Panchayat. On the other hand, Mr Brar accused the Akalis of always resorting to violence during elections. He said people were fed up with the Akalis and alleged that they turned violent today as they saw themselves losing the elections.

Meanwhile, the Congress emerged victorious on 10 seats, while the SAD had to be content with a mere four seats. Another victorious rebel candidate declared his support for the Congress.

Amritsar: The Congress emerged victorious in both Nagar Panchayat poll and the civic by-election held here today .

The Congress won 11 out of 13 seats in the Rajasansi Nagar Panchayat poll. According to reports, Nishan Singh, Inderjit Singh, Swarn Kaur, Inderpal Singh, Sukhjit Kaur, Darshan Singh, Dayal Singh, Gurdip Kaur, Tejinder Singh, Gurdial Singh, Amrik Kaur, all of the Congress, won their seats, while Ms Anju (SAD) and Harinder Singh (Independent) won in Ward Nos 1 and 5, respectively . In the civic poll the Congress won two out of three seats in the violence-marred byelections to the three municipal wards of the city. Mr Raman Bakshi, a Congress candidate and relative of Mayor Sunil Datti won in Ward No 34. Ms Inderpreet Kaur won from Ward No. 56, while SAD’s Malkeet Singh Walia won from Ward No. 60.

Mr Surjit Singh Dhodhi in Ward No. 34 in the Kot Khalsa area narrowly escaped as a bullet tore through his turban. Brick-bats were freely used and several rounds of firing were reported in the same area. Ms Pal Kaur, who was hit with brick on her head and Sonu were injured however, the condition of both was reported to be out of danger.

According to eyewitnesses, it was free for all around 2.30 pm in this crucial ward. SHO Gurjit Singh faced the ire of violent party workers when he intervened to pacify the warring factions . An altercation took place between supporters of Mayor Sunil Datti, whose close relative Mr Raman Bakshi (Congress) is in the fray, and the supporters, of Independent candidate Sawinder Satta supported by MLA Om Parkash Soni (also a Congressman) and Deputy Mayor Sawinder Singh.

The supporters of both candidates clashed. While the Mayor said the police resorted to firing in their after unruly scenes, some eyewitnesses said that the Mayor’s relatives opened fire. The Mayor called for strict action against Mr Soni and the Deputy Mayor for anti-party activities.

Meanwhile, one person each was injured in Ward Nos 56 and 60 and reports of bogus voting were also received. Some ruling party MLAs in sensitive booths falling in Mohampura, Tungpai were allegedly helping people to caste fake votes. Supporters of BJP candidate Dr Renu Goel alleged large scale rigging and said their demands of checking identity cards were rejected by the security personnel, which led to a clash.

GURDASPUR: The Congress candidate, Mr Gulshan, today won the byelection to Ward No. 3 of the Gurdaspur Municipal Council. Mr Gulshan defeated the nearest rival of the BJP, Kanta Rani.

Earlier during the polling the police had to resort to a mild lathi charge to disperse the workers of the SAD, the BJP and the Congress, who gathered near the polling station. The workers of both parties alleged that the police resorted to unprovoked lathi charge.

The polling was going on peacefully. However, somebody started shouting near the polling station. The curious workers of the Congress, the SAD and the BJP gathered near the polling station. The police without issuing any warning lathi-charged the people standing nearby.

The SAD and BJP leaders alleged a large scale bogus voting. They alleged that the presiding officers were supporting the ruling party candidate. They allowed the Congress workers to cast bogus votes despite protest by the polling agents of the BJP. Ward No. 3 fell vacant after the death of former BJP councillor Tarsem Lal. The BJP had fielded Kanta Devi, widow of Tarsem Lal, in the election.

Mr Sukhwinder Pal Bittu of the Lok Janshakti Party was the third candidate. He managed to get just 23 votes.

HOSHIARPUR: The Mahilpur Vikas Manch, comprising the SAD and the BJP, won electons to the Nagar Panchayat, Mahilpur, of this district today.

According to official sources, the Mahilpur Vikas Manch (MVM) won six seats, the Congress four, BSP one and Independents two. Nearly 89 per cent voters excercised franchise.

The winners are:- Mahilpur Vikas Manch — Ms Veena Rani from Ward No. 1, Mr Naranjan Singh from Ward No. 2, Ms Sukhwinder Kaur from ward No. 4, Mr Ramji Dass from Ward No. 5, Mr Tarlochan Lal from Ward No. 8 and Mr Jaswinder Singh from Ward No. 11; Congress, Mr. Ashok Kumar from Ward No. 3, Ms Gurmeet Kaur Bains from Ward No. 9, Mr Ram Lubhaiya from Ward No. 12 and Ms Balwinder Kaur from Ward No. 13; and BSP — Ms Baljeet Kaur from Ward No. 7. Independents, who the elections are Mr Faquir Chand from Ward No. 6 and Ms Kamlesh Bhatti from Ward No. 10.

In the Municipal Council byelection for Ward No. 3 of Garhshankar town of this district Mr Paramjit Singh, an Independent candidate, supported by the MVM defeated his nearest rival Mr Tirath Ram of the Congress.

KAPURTHALA: While the Congress registered impressive win in byelections to the Municipal Committees of Kapurthala and Sultanpur Lodhi, it faced a tough contest from the SAD-BJP alliance candidates or candidates supported by it at Bholath, Begowal and Dhilwan Nagar Panchayat elections.

At Kapurthala, the Congress wrested the Ward No. 21 seat from the BJP in the byelection held due to the death of BJP councillor Harbans Lal Panchhi. Congress candidate Rajinder Singh Walia defeated SAD-BJP candidate Krishna Handa.

Similarly at Sultanpur Lodhi, Congress candidate Veena Gupta, wife of former president of the Municipal Council Vinod Gupta, won from Ward No. 10. She defeated Ms Simranjeet Dhir of the SAD-BJP combine and Ms Rajni Taksali, an Independent candidate, in a triangular contest.

At Begowal, where Ms Harbans Kaur, SAD candidate and sitting president of the Nagar Panchayat, was defeated by an Independent, Mr Balwinder Singh Bittu, the Congress managed to win four seats while Independents won in two wards. The remaining five wards went to the SAD. At Bholath, Mr Ved Parkash, a Congress candidate and sitting president of the Nagar Panchayat, was defeated by his own wife, Ms Vipin Khurana, an Independent candidate. While the SAD-BJP combine won six seats and in Ward No. 4 Mr Sham Sunder, an Independent candidate, supported by the Congress was the winner. The remaining five seats went to the Congress.

At Dhilwan, out of 11 seats eight were won by the Congress-supported candidates, while three seats went to the candidates supported by the SAD-BJP combine.

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