Uttarakhand: Violence mars Manglaur assembly bypoll; peaceful polling in Badrinath

NewsDrum Desk
New Update

Dehradun, Jul 10 (PTI) An incident of violence marred the Manglaur assembly bypoll in Uttarakhand on Wednesday that left four people injured, even as 67.28 per cent polling was recorded in the constituency.

Polling in Badrinath, the other assembly seat that went to polls, remained peaceful, officials said, adding the constituency recorded a voter turnout of 47.68 per cent.

However, the election officials here said the final voter turnout could be revised.

In Manglaur, the BSP has fielded Ubedur Rehman, the son of party MLA Sarwat Karim Ansari whose death necessitated the bypoll, against Congress' Qazi Nizamuddin.

The BJP has fielded Gujjar leader Kartar Singh Bhadana.

In Badrinath, there is a direct contest between BJP's Rajendra Bhandari and Congress newcomer Lakhpat Singh Butola.

Roorkee Civil Line Kotwali in-charge R K Saklani told PTI that a report was received about a clash between workers of two parties at booth number 53-54 at Libbarheri in Manglaur.

Four people were injured in the clash and they have been sent to the hospital, he said.

Congress candidate and former MLA Nizamuddin was seen taking a man in bloodstained clothes to the hospital. He accused the BJP of openly throttling democracy by sowing seeds of hatred.

A purported video of the incident surfaced on social media that showed Nizamuddin embracing an injured worker at the hospital and crying aloud.

The injured were groaning in pain alleging they were thrashed and ordered not to vote.

Another video showed some voters being chased out of the booth by men who had covered their faces.

Nizamuddin claimed several rounds were fired in the air by anti-social elements.

"There are bullet marks on the walls of the booth. They prove there was firing," Qazi told reporters.

He said despite the booth falling into the sensitive category for the past several elections, deployment of security personnel was not adequate.

There were two sub-inspector level officials, a constable and no ambulances at the booth, he said.

However, both the police and the district administration in Haridwar denied there was firing at the booth saying the reports were baseless.

Reacting to allegations of violence in Manglaur, state BJP president Mahendra Bhatt said it was part of the Congress' conspiracy to influence voters.

"The Congress was aware of the voters' inclination to vote for development. So it conspired and used workers from outside Manglaur to create some trouble and influence voters," Bhatt alleged. Several Congress leaders including former chief minister Harish Rawat, Leader of Opposition in Uttarakhand Assembly Yashpal Arya and Congress MP Imran Masood condemned the violence saying this had never happened in Uttarakhand before.

"It has been done at the behest of the BJP in complicity with the authorities," Rawat charged.

He accused the BJP of trying to stop people from voting for the Congress and "murdering democracy".

Masood said the BJP is introducing electoral violence and hooliganism in Uttarakhand.

Arya asked people to beware of the designs of the BJP.

"A Congress delegation will call on the chief electoral officer to lodge a complaint as the district administration and the police are hand in glove with the state government," Arya alleged.

Later, the Congress leaders sat on a dharna in front of the office of SP (rural) Swapan Kishore.

Manglaur, a Muslim- and Dalit-dominated constituency, has been held either by the BSP or the Congress in the past. The BJP has never won it since the creation of the state and has fielded from here Bhadana who was an MLA in both Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The Badrinath seat fell vacant after sitting Congress MLA Rajendra Bhandari resigned and switched to the BJP in March this year.

Besides BJP and Congress nominees, other candidates in the fray in Badrinath are former CRPF officer Himmat Singh of the Sainik Samaj Party and Naval Khali, a journalist who is contesting as an Independent.

Votes for the bypolls will be counted on July 13. PTI ALM ALM KVK KVK