Two killed as violence, mismanagement mar Sindh LG polls

Dozens injured, election postponed in some areas, polling station comes under attack by dacoits

At least two persons have been killed and dozens left injured in separate incidents of violence during the Sindh local bodies polls, which have also been marred by electoral mismanagement.

The voting time of the first phase of local body elections in Sindh concluded at 5pm. Those inside the polling station have been allowed to cast their vote before a count begins.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has postponed voting in some areas, including in Ghotki district’s Mirpur Mathelo, citing technical issues, after the wrong names of candidates were printed on ballot papers and electoral symbols were found missing.

Reports of male presiding officers deputed at women’s polling stations, and incomplete electoral rolls were received from several areas.

Violence in Sukkur, Kandhkot, Nawabshah, Ghotki and Mirpur Mathelo involved not only clashes between political workers but also polling staff being taken hostage and at least one polling station in Kandhkot being attacked by dacoits.

Violence

A man was shot dead and three were injured during a clash between JUI and PPP workers in Sukkur.

The two parties clashed at a polling station in Rohri, leading to the suspension of the voting process.

Firing near Bahadur polling station in Jacobabad left at least six, including PPP’s candidate, injured.

The polling process was halted after the incident.

In a similar incident, polling in Municipal Committee Ward 13 was suspended after a brawl resulted in the death of one person in Tando Adam.

The polling station was immediately closed after the incident.

Sindh IGP Ghulam Nabi Memon, however, said that the body of the deceased did not carry any bullet wounds.

He further added that an autopsy has not been performed so far.

In Kandhkot, at least 20 people were reportedly injured as a fight broke out between the workers of rival political parties in ward 10.

A large contingent of police and rangers rushed to the scene to restore the law and order.

Eyewitnesses said that the workers of the two parties, PPP and JUI, attacked each other with bamboo sticks, leaving scores of people injured.

Polling was temporarily suspended at the polling stations.

A scuffle between PPP and JUI candidates also broke out in Sukkur’s ** Pano Aqil** that left two people injured including JUI general councilor candidate Ghulam Mustafa.

The clash was reported at Fareed Mehr polling station following, what the JUI candidate alleged, was ‘an unprovoked attack.’

Meanwhile, in Nawabshah, armed gunmen took hostage the staff of the social security polling station and the policemen deputed there.

Onlookers said the attackers climbed the wall to enter the polling station, attacked the staff, and took away the ballot papers.

In total, three polling stations in Nawabshah were deprived of ballot papers and other materials in a goon attack.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has taken notice of the incident and ordered a probe.

In Mirpur Mathelo, 13 people were injured in clashes between PPP and GDA workers in UC Dhangro.

An angry mob also smashed the windows of the GDA candidate’s car.

The PPP and GDA workers also clashed in district Ghotki’s UC Ali Mahar. Polling was stopped after the conflict was reported.

A confrontation in Khangarh Taluka also left four persons wounded who were shifted to the hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, PTI’s Ali Zaidi has alleged that former Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim’s son, Arbab Innayatullah, was attacked by “at a polling station” in Kaloi, Mithi in Tharparkar.

The PTI Sindh president further added, “Law enforcement and ECP nowhere in sight, except Sindh Police who are actually protecting the attackers!”

In Shahdadkot, the police have arrested JUI candidate Saddam Sangha after a fight ensued an argument over casting vote in the women’s polling booth between JUI and PPP candidates in UC 20.

Mismanagement

In Sukkur’s Saleh Pat polling was stopped in ward 1 where the PTI candidate protested the “illegal” appointment of a male presiding officer at the female polling station.

The PTI candidate has also said that the presiding officer has been harassing female voters.

Besides Sukkur, complaints of illegal appointment of male presiding officers in female polling stations were also received from Mirwah and Gorchani in the Mirpur Khas district.

Police also expelled a fake polling agent in Mirpur Khas UC 8 ward 1 after the polling station staff testified against him.

In Khairpur, police were called to Ranipur’s Aliabad polling station when the independent candidates started protesting against the change of election symbol in Ward 5.

A presiding officer from Tharparkar told Samaa TV that as many as 300 ballot papers were missing from his polling station where 1200 voters were registered.

Reports also emerged from Naushahro Feroze about the shortage of polling staff and incomplete voter rolls.

The presiding officer of Sulaiman polling station said he could not facilitate the voting process owing to the absence of the complete voter rolls and staff.

MQM-P demands suspension of polling in 3 districts

Addressing a press conference in Karachi, Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Waseem Akhtar claimed that massive rigging was seen in the local bodies’ elections in the interior part of Sindh, adding that the MQM-P already feard this and this was the reason that it had approached the high court.

He said that dacoits have kidnapped the administration officials while ballot boxes have been taken away by activists of a political party. He said the firing and assault incidents during the by-polls were also repoorted.

Akhtar urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to immediately stop polling in Nawabshah, Sukkur, and Mirpur Khas and sought time from the chief election commissioner (CEC) so that they could tell them the ground realities of the interior Sindh.

Akhtar said the way elections were underway, it would have been better if the process had not been carried out at all.

He said that free and fair elections were impossible in the prevailing situation and added that it has also raised questions about the performance of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

The local bodies polls in Sindh have been held after a gap of six years. Several opposition parties in the province had opposed holding the polls, raising objections to delimitations and claiming that electoral rolls were incomplete. However, their petitions were dismissed by the Sindh high court.

More to follow…

LG polls

Sindh local bodies elections

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