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Punjab Votes ’07
Beas poll put off to March 11
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Beas, February 8
In a setback to the ruling party, the Election Commission of India (ECI) today deferred polling in this sensitive border Assembly constituency to March 11.
Indicting the state government and the Punjab Police, the ECI said: "They failed to create a peaceful atmosphere conducive to the conduct of peaceful , free and fair elections here." Polling in the border constituency of Valtoha has already been deferred till February 24 because of the death of the CPI candidate in a road accident.

A beaming Manjinder Singh Kang, an Akali candidate, said his stand stood vindicated. He, however, alleged that Z plus security should be given to him since he faced grave risk to his life, especially after postponement of the polling.

He sought arrest of Congress candidate Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, his two brothers Harmanbir Singh Gill, S.P. (Traffic), Chandigarh, and Harpinder Singh Rajan, as they had been 'indicted' by the Election Commission.

Unfazed by the postponement, Mr Dimpa continued to address rallies till late in the evening.

Though the Majitha police has already arrested four persons, including three official gunmen of the Congress MLA, the ECI took exception to the police failure to arrest the absconding culpruts even after 10 days of registration of FIR.

Meanwhile, Mr R.K.Bedi , an official spokesman of Dera Baba Jaimal Singh, refuted reports that some accused persons involved in the Beas poll violence were taking shelter in the dera. He said the dera management had not given shelter to anybody involved in any crime. Being a religious place, the dera had not evinced any interest in the elections too.

The notification by the ECI gave minute details of the alleged 'abduction' of a woman sarpanch belonging to the Congress that triggered the clash between Congress and SAD workers . It talked of how the DGP had tried to shield the accused persons in his reports on the law and order situation in Beas. DGP who tried to give a 'clean chit' to Mr Dimpa's brother posted as S.P.(Traffic), Chandigarh, claiming that the latter was on duty at Chandigarh at the time of the clash.

What irked the ECI most was that Rajan phoned the Election Commission's observer on January 31.The observer, in turn, informed the DIG and gave his (Rajan's) mobile number to him.

Indicting the police , the ECI recorded that :"No arrest of accused, especially no arrest of Rajan, brother of Dimpa, has raised serious questions about impartiality and professionalism of the Punjab Police.”The ECI further stated that the "report of the DGP does not indicate the reasons why Rajan, brother of Dimpa, could not be arrested till now".

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