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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

After peaceful poll, protests mar counting of votes

Navrajdeep Singh , Hindustan Times  Patiala , July 05, 2013
First Published: 00:16 IST(5/7/2013) | Last Updated: 00:21 IST(5/7/2013)


With the polling remaining peaceful, protest marches and road blockades marred the celebrations after the panchayat elections in the district on Wednesday.

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While the district administration was yet to pat its back for its claims of holding free and fair elections, allegations of anomalies during the counting of votes at the end of the day came as dejection for the officials.

Residents of Bakshiwala village held a protest in front of the deputy commissioner's office at the mini-secretariat here, alleging high-handedness by polling staff at the time of counting. Chanan Singh, a candidate for the sarpanch's post from the village, alleged that he was leading by 53 votes over his opponent Avtar Singh even in the last phase but the polling staff declared Avtar winner by three votes.

"The polling staff cancelled votes cast in my favour for no apparent reason and unethically declared my opponent as the winner. I left the polling booth without signing the documents presented to me by the polling staff," he claimed.

The protesters raised slogans against the presiding officer and other officials of the district administration and handed over a memorandum to SDM Gurpal Singh Chahal, demanding recounting of votes.

In another instance, demanding re-election at Bahadurgarh village, Congress workers blocked the Patiala-Rajpura road for an hour. They accused the Akali workers of wrongdoing, which affected the results during the counting around 8.30pm.The protesters lifted the blockade after the SDM asked them to submit their representation. "We will look into the representation of the protesters and will take the decision accordingly," he said.

Sarpanch candidate runs away with ballot papers
A sarpanch candidate from Shekhpura village in Bhunerheri block ran away with ballot papers from the polling booth, following which the result has been withheld.However, pandemonium prevailed as workers of the opposite party started protesting against the police and polling staff for their alleged negligence. SDM Gurpal Singh Chahal confirmed the incident.

Candidate arrested
Jagjit Singh, a candidate for the post of panch from Dulladi village near Nabha, has been arrested for allegedly distributing poppy husk on Tuesday night to lure the voters. The police also recovered 5kg of contraband from his possession.

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