Violence reported in Punjab local elections

Chandigarh, May 19 : Violent clashes between workers of Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and the opposition Congress were reported from at least two places as the polling for local self-government bodies ended Sunday evening, officials said.

Poll officials said that from available indications, up to 60 percent voters cast their franchise in elections to 22 zila parishads and 145 block samitis despite the hot weather across Punjab.

In Lambi area of south-west Punjab, five vehicles were set on fire following a clash between workers of both parties, police officials said. The vehicles belonged to the Akali Dal supporters and were torched allegedly by Congress activists.

Police had to use force, including cane charge and tear gas, and even fire shots in the air to secure the release of a few Akali Dal workers who were allegedly held hostage by Congressmen.

Another violent clash was reported from Mansa district.

Till noon, officials said, 20-25 percent voting was reported. Results will be declared Tuesday (May 21).

Nearly 40,000 policemen were deployed at nearly 19,500 polling booths to ensure peaceful elections.

The main contest is between the Akali Dal and the Congress.

Akali Dal president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the voting was peaceful.

"The overwhelming and peaceful response of rural voters of the state for zila parishad and block samiti elections has signalled the landslide victory of SAD-BJP combine, putting a last nail in the coffin of anti-Punjab and corrupt Congress party," Badal said in a statement.

He said the Congress indulged in malicious propaganda during campaigning for these elections against the Akali Dal government.

--IANS (Posted on 20-05-2013)

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