Two killed, over 50 injured in violence in PRI polls

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Chandigarh, May 12 (UNI) Two people were killed while a Congress candidate was among over 50 persons injured in sporadic incidents of violence as about 70 per cent of the 1.51 crore voters cast their votes in the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections in Punjab today.

The state Election Commission on the bases of reports of Returning Officers has ordered repoll in at least 10-odd polling stations in different parts of the state following incidents of booth capturing and snatching of ballot papers. The polling process was also marred by clashes between Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the BJP and opposition Congress workers.

The Commission described the polling incidents as by and large peaceful barring a few incidents of violence. The polling began on a dull note but as the day progressed it picked up.

The BJP leadership reacted sharply to the targeting of its workers by its alliance partner (SAD) at over a dozen places in the state. Local Bodies Minister and senior BJP leader Manoranjan Kalia condemned the incidents of violence and said that the BJP high command had been informed of the manner in which the Akalis had targeted their supporters.

Mr Kalia who spoke to Mr Parkash Singh Badal claimed that the Chief Minister had promised to inquire into these incidents and bring to book the Akalis responsible for attacks on BJP supporters.

Meanwhile the Core Committee of the state BJP will meet here tomorrow morning to take stock of the incidents of violence in the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) polls in which its party supporters were targeted by SAD workers. The meeting has been summoned by BJP secretary Balbir Punj who is incharge of the party's affairs in Punjab after consulting BJP president Rajnath Singh.

The Chief Minister described the violent incidents as "unfortunate", but hastened to add that these were of a very minor nature and would not effect the alliance with the BJP.

The Congress too condemned the violence and said that the ruling alliance had stooped low to murder democracy at the grass roots level. Uts senior leader Jagmeet Singh Brar called for the 'gherao' of the Chief Minister.

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