With two old rivals, SAD’s Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu and Congress’ Harminder Singh Jassi in the contest, as was expected, polling for the bypoll to the Talwandi Sabo assembly segment, that recorded 80% polling, witnessed violence, including firing of gunshots, damage to vehicles, lathicharge, and tension across the constituency.
Violence broke out outside a polling station at the market committee office of Rama Mandi in ward number 3, when both Jeet Mohinder and Harminder Singh Jassi had an altercation at about 3 pm. In the presence of both the candidates, some of the SAD supporters allegedly beat up a Congress supporter and Jassi intervened in the matter. Meanwhile, some unidentified men, reportedly SAD supporters, also opened fire.
Eyewitnesses said about seven rounds of bullets were fired. With the situation getting tense, security guards of central para military forces accompanying Jassi, who is having Z category security, to control the situation, smashed wnindow panes some of the vehicles. Jassi alleged that anti-social elements owing allegiance to the SAD opened fire at him and it was only with the intervention of his security guards that he could save himself. He alleged that despite these elements resorting to attack him, the police were arresting his supporters and not acting against the attackers.
However, deputy commissioner-cum-district election officer Basant Garg and SSP, Bathinda, Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, who reached the spot, said that the preliminary inquiry has revealed that firing was opened by some security guards after the altercation between the two candidates.
Bhullar said that SP (detective), Swaran Singh Khanna has been asked to inquire into the matter and the police have collected shells of used cartridges from the spot. After investigation, it will be clear that from which weapon, these bullets were fired, he said.
In the second incident during the last hour of polling, the police resorted to a lathicharge after SAD and Congress supporters had an altercation outside the polling station at Yadvindra college in Talwandi Sabo town. Some miscreants resorted to stone-pelting and the police had to resort to a lathicharge to control the situation. Some vehicles were also damaged. Meanwhile, the atmosphere remained tense across the constituency with heated exchanges between SAD and Congress supporters at several places. Supporters of SAD were also seen distributing sticks among themselves. With reports of alleged bogus polling and the presence of outsiders, Jassi also had altercations with SAD supporters at several places.
BAJWA FLAYS ATTACK
Condemning the attack on Harminder Singh Jassi, PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa, said that despite excesses and other illegitimate means resorted to by the SAD, the Congress would win the bypoll. Bajwa alleged that SAD activists opened fire in Rama Mandi to create a scare in the Congress-dominated area and said such terror tactics would prove to be counter-productive.
PHOOLKA FOR RE-POLLING AT SOME BOOTHS
AAP leader HS Phoolka has demanded re-polling on selected booths in view of the violence. He said large-scale booth capturing has taken place at some places.
He said polling at at booth no. 81 of Kelabander village, booth nos. 107, 115 and 118 of Talwandi town, booth no 129 of Teona village should be declared void and re-polling should be ordered.