Violence Mars 5th Phase Of Panchayat Polls30 April 2011
Jammu: At least 15 persons, including a polling officer, seven policemen and an elected Sarpanch received injuries in violent clashes between police and agitating voters during the fifth phase of 16-phased Panchayat elections on Saturday that witnessed over 81 percent polling in nine blocks of eight districts of the state. The government has announced re-polling on four polling stations-one in Kashmir and three in Jammu-after group clashes, ballot box “capturing” and complaints of “interference and misdeed by polling staff.” A total of 3,12,233 electorates exercised their franchise in nine blocks during the fifth phase of Panchayat elections. Two blocks of Rajouri district, Darhal and Budhal in Jammu division witnessed violent clashes after the voters alleged “bogus voting” and “capturing” of ballot boxes allegedly by police personnel and supporters of a candidate. Sources said that violent clashes broke out at three polling stations in Sangarbat Panchayat in Darhal block when the supporters of contesting candidates alleged “bogus voting”. “The supporters of contesting candidates resorted to heavy stone-pelting on police personnel after the latter resorted to cane charge to disperse the agitating mob,” sources added. People also blamed that the police personnel had brought fake ballot boxes to the polling station to give undue benefit to a particular candidate. The higher officials of administration and police department rushed to the spot to assess the situation. “The polling remained disrupted for hours together and district electoral officer is likely to recommend re-polling on three polling stations in Sangarbat Panchayat,” sources maintained. A polling officer identified as Naresh Raina and seven policemen were injured in the stone-pelting. “The stone-pelting and clashes between supporters of contesting candidates continued till late this evening in Sagarbat Panchayat,” sources said. Sources said that an elected Sarpanch identified as Ghulam Qadir in Sabjyian Panchayat of Darhal block was thrashed and beaten up by some local people soon after he was declared winner. “He received multiple injuries and was rushed to nearby hospital for treatment,” sources said. District Development Commissioner (DDC) Rajouri, Khawaja Ghulam Muhammad told Greater Kashmir that clashes between contesting candidates and their supporters were witnessed at five polling stations, including Jaba, Ujjan, Patathana and three polling stations in Sangarbat of Darhal block. “In Sangarbat Panchayat, people took away the ballot boxes and even resorted to stone-pelting on police personnel. We will recommend re-polling at three polling stations in this Panchayat,” the DDC said, adding that similar incidents were witnessed at Patathana, Jaba and Ujjan polling stations but polling was completed on all these three polling booths after remaining disrupted for some time. Violent clashes were also reported at Panihat Panchayat of Budhal block in Rajouri district. When contacted, an official said re-polling has been announced on polling station KP-167 (ward number two) in Bakhi Haker Panchayat of Rajwara block of district Kupwara after complaint of “interference” and “misdeed” by a government official during the election. The government official has been identified as Muhammad Qasim. He informed that police resorted to mild cane charge after clashes broke out between two groups during polling at Jaba polling station in Darhal block. “Re-polling will be announced at one of the polling stations in Sangarbat Panchayat of Darhal block,” he said. Official figures however claimed that poll percentage remained 85 percent in Rajwara, 66 percent in Wagoora, 84 percent in Khansahib, 83.18 percent in DH Pora, 82.35 percent in Arnas, 83.20 percent in Panchari, 74.33 percent in Basohli, 83.28 percent in Darhal and 85.88 percent in Budhal with an overall percentage of 81.09 percent in all these blocks. As many as 340 Sarpanches and 2450 Panches in 9 blocks of eight districts of the state were elected in the fifth phase of polling. The elections were held on 36 Sarpanch constituencies and 281 Panch constituencies in block Rajwara of district Kupwara, 35 Sarpanch and 274 Panch constituencies in block Wagoora of district Baramulla, 50 Sarpanch and 391 Panch constituencies in block Khansahib of district Budgam, 53 Sarpanch and 322 Panch constituencies in block DH Pora of district Kulgam, 30 Sarpanch and 220 Panch constituencies in block Arnas of district Reasi, 21 Sarpanch and 158 Panch constituencies in block Panchari of district Udhampur, 34 Sarpanch and 230 Panch constituencies in block Basohli of district Kathua, 23 Sarpanch and 138 Panch constituencies in block Darhal of district Rajouri and 58 Sarpanch and 436 Panch constituencies in block Budhal of district Rajouri. The first phase of Panchayat polls had recorded 79.77 per cent polling while the second and third phases witnessed 82 per cent and 79 percent polling. Over 80 percent electorates had exercised their franchise in fourth phase of the polling. The elections for the sixth phase will be held on May 4, seventh phase on May 8, eighth phase on May 12, ninth phase on May 16, tenth phase on May 21. Last six phases will be held on May 25, May 29, June 2, June 6, June 11 and June 16.