Despite several incidents of violence across Punjab on the polling day on Sunday and bloodshed in the run-up to the zila parishad and panchayat samiti elections, the Punjab Police on Monday described as a "great achievement" the role played by 49,397 police personnel in ensuring "successful conduct" of the elections.
Addressing a press conference, Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini, flanked by additional director general of police (ADGP, intelligence) HS Dhillon and ADGP (state election cell incharge) CSR Reddy, claimed that polling was virtually incident-free in the 18 police districts/commissionerates.
The police top brass claimed that in nine districts, mere 18 election-related incidents had been reported, while in the 2008 zila parishad polls, more than 60 cases of poll-related incidents had come to the fore. Barring one incident, the police officers said, the remaining 17 reported on Sunday were of the nature of scuffle/obstructing public servant from performing his official duty. "In one incident, the police had to resort to a lathicharge and firing in the air to control the violence," the police said.
Regarding repolling ordered in nine polling booths (in Faridkot, Fazilka, Moga and Muktsar districts) out of the total of 17,857, the police officers attributed it to casting of bogus votes, irregularities in ballot papers and voter impersonation. "The repolling has not been ordered because of any violent incident," they said.
Contrary to the ground realities and reports about scores of sporadic incidents of violence and police personnel allegedly turning a blind eye towards unlawful activities of people owing allegiance to the ruling party during polling, the police officers said: "It's a great achievement. We were able to successfully conduct the election."
Reddy repeatedly said that there was neither any fatality nor anybody was grievously hurt. "It is because of the planning we had done well in advance," he said.
The police officers were at pains to claim credit for holding the elections successfully, while saying that on the other hand, "lots of violence" took place in local bodies' elections all over the country.