M A I N   N E W S

52 pc polling in Rohtak byelection
TV journalist beaten up, hospitalised
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, September 28
Nearly 52 per cent of about 10 lakh voters in the Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency today voted in what was described as “peaceful polling” by Mr K.J. Rao, Adviser to the Election Commission of India, who had come here to supervise the polling.

Mr Deepender Singh Hooda, son of Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, is contesting on the Congress ticket. He is facing Capt Abhimanyu of the BJP, Mr Balwan Singh Suhag of the INLD and 12 other candidates.

At least one journalist, Mahesh Kumar of Total TV, received injuries when he was beaten up by certain hooligans, purported to be supporters of the Congress and the BJP at Madina village in the Meham Assembly constituency represented by Mr Anand Singh Dangi. He told The Tribune that when he was coming from Hisar to Rohtak, he saw two groups exchanging hot words at Madina. When he and his cameraman, Shish Pal, started recording the verbal clash, some unidentified persons started beating them up and snatched their camera. He alleged that the policemen present there were mute spectators.

They were allowed to go home after treatment in the Rohtak Medical College Hospital, but not before another incident involving newsmen took place. A couple of journalists of a Hindi daily and a local channel, who had gone to the hospital to interview their colleague, were detained by security personnel for an hour. They were released only after the intervention of other journalists. Doctors on duty alleged that the detained journalists were interfering in their duties.

The BJP alleged that a senior party leader, Mr Ram Chandra Jangra, was also hurt in the Madina incident. The FIRs have been lodged by the authorities against the Congress as well as the BJP for the alleged violation of election laws by the authorities. Earlier Mr Rao had seized T-shirts, bearing the Congress election symbol, allegedly being distributed by supporters of the party. He also seized badges and voter slips carrying photographs of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Capt Abhimanyu, which were being allegedly distributed by BJP supporters. The FIRs have been registered against the two parties in this connection.

Mr Rao concentrated particularly on the Kiloi Assembly constituency represented by Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

He told The Tribune that he had received complaints from the BJP but these were found to be untrue.

The low voter turnout, said to be the lowest in any of the parliamentary elections held in Rohtak in the past few years, is being ascribed to a general apathy of electorate generated by repeated elections in the past one and a half years. In certain rural areas farmers preferred to harvest bajra crop instead of going to the polling booths.

The Election Commission had issued strict instructions that no voter was to be allowed to vote without establishing his identity either through the voter identity card or any of the other 11 documents. The polling officers were under instructions to note down particulars of the document with which the identity of the voter was established, if that document was other than the voter identity card. These instructions made bogus voting virtually impossible, even if overzealous supporters of any party wanted to increase the poll percentage through dubious means.

According to tentative figures, the Meham segment recorded the highest turnout of 62 per cent followed by Kiloi, the Assembly constituency of the Chief Minister, which reported 60 per cent polling.

The Rohtak and Sahlawas segments recorded the lowest poll percentage of 45 each. The poll percentage in the other five Assembly segments was Badli (56), Jhajjar (49), Kalanaur (51), Beri (55) and Hassangarh (50).

The votes will be counted on October 1.


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