In a repeat of 2007 polls for the local body, violence and hooliganism of SAD-BJP workers with active support of police personnel marred voting for the Patiala municipal corporation elections today. Akali workers tries to manhandle Punjab congress president Capt Amarinder Singh at Ablowal in ward number 49, where he went to support party candidate who was mercilessly beaten up by rivals and police.
SAD supporters tried to manhandle Capt when he tries to enter a polling station to stop booth-capturing. However, heavy police force deployed at the spot prevented the situation from turning worse. The Akali supporters however hurled abuses and raised anti-Captain slogans and challenged him to come out so that they could "teach him a lesson".
Similarly, Capt's son Raninder Singh was allegedly attacked by Akali supporters in ward number 47. However, Congressmen stood their ground.
During polling, police either remained mute spectator or assisted ruling SAD-BJP alliance supporters in browbeating opposition and capturing polling booths. Eleven Electronic Voting Machines were broken by the Akalis, and police remained a mute spectator. Police and SAD supporters did not even allow videography of polling stations, which was allowed by Punjab and Hayana high court.
"It's a bad day for democracy. The custodians have murdered democracy. Ruling alliance men captured booths, beat up Congressmen with impunity. Police, which was supposed to maintain law and order, joined hands with rioters and helped them capture booths," Captain Amarinder told HT.
Capt Amarinder condemned the incidents of booth-capturing, saying that it was "expected". He regretted that police and civil administration had completely failed in ensuring peaceful elections and people were prevented from casting their votes.
"Had it been between the Akalis and Congressmen, we could have given a befitting reply. But police joined the Akalis to beat Congressmen mercilessly. Goonda raj is prevailing in Punjab and citizens will soon regret voting for SAD-BJP in assembly elections. Some has already started regretting this," the former chief minister remarked.
He said that poor law and order could be gauged from the fact that a DSP Rajinder Singh had sided with hooligans who tried to attack his cavalcade.
Meanwhile, reports of booth-capturing were received from different wards of Patiala municipal corporation.