Tension prevailed in different areas of the city on Saturday on the eve of the civic body elections. The Congress workers alleged manhandling and intimidation by the Akali workers and Punjab Police.
In Ward 29, Congress candidate Suman Sharma reported an attacked by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) campaigners. In a complaint lodged with the Kotwali police, the Congress candidate said activists from the rival party had dragged her on the street in the presence of the police, which had taken no action.
She alleged that Jasbir Singh Bittu, younger brother of official SAD candidate Taranjeet Bhatia, had led the goons that attacked the Congress office in Raghomajra area. “They ransacked the office,” she said, “and threatened us not to raise any booth on the election day.”
Eyewitnesses confirmed that the SAD workers had attacked the Congressmen in the presence of the police, who had remained mute spectators.
The Akali leaders lodged a counter complaint with the police, claiming that Deepak, a niece of the Congress candidate, had threatened them while they were canvassing in the area.
In another incidence in ward 1, the police from tje Civil Lines station impounded vehicles of supporters of Congress candidate Vinod Kumar. They claimed that Kabir Dass, father of the Congress candidate, had been caught distributing money to allure voters.
Later, Congress workers cried foul over the incident, and sat on a dharna at the police station. Preneet Kaur, local member of parliament and union minister of state for foreign affairs, led that agitation, forcing station house officer Rajesh Chibber to release the vehicles.
However, a first-information report (FIR) was registered against Kabir Dass and a few other Congress leaders on a charge of violating the model code of conduct and breach of peace. “Since morning, policemen were sitting in my house, asking me to withdraw nomination,” said Vinod Kumar.
“I did not succumb to the pressure, so a false case was laid against my father at the behest of SAD’s senior leader Prem Singh Chandumajra,”
After reports of harassment of the Congress workers, the leader of opposition in state assembly, Sunil Jakhar; local MP Preneet Kaur; her son, Raninder Singh, and Hardyal Kamboj, member of the legislative assembly from Rajpura, sat on a dharna in ward 29 and blocked the road.
“There’s no law in the city,” alleged Preneet Kaur. “The police and SAD workers have taken full command of Patiala. Congress workers are being thrashed and pressurised by the Shiromani Akali Dal leaders, and the police were registering cases against the Congress workers.”
Deputy inspector general of police LK Yadav said extra force had been deployed after the “minor incidents”.