Ballot and bullet: Disruptions as PTI (big) guns blaze in Punjab
GUJRANWALA, Feb 26: Violence and mismanagement marred the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf intra-party polls in many parts of Punjab on Tuesday.
In Gujranwala, a group of PTI hoodlums thrashed some journalists who ended up in hospitals with injuries. Lensmen of print and electronic media were capturing and recording images of polling activities on GT Road when the armed guards of PTI leader Khalid Aziz Lone (who had recently quit the PPP to join the PTI) stopped them from focusing on display of weapons.
The guards manhandled cameramen Khurram Shahzad, Jamshed Gul, S.M. Sherazi, Imran Mughal and Sardar Zeeshan and smashed the cameras.
The injured were admitted to the DHQ hospital with fractures and other injuries.
The police arrested a PTI activist, Adil of Gakkhar Town, and were conducting raids to apprehend others.
Journalist unions strongly protested hooliganism and urged the police to crack down on the wrongdoers.
BAHAWALPUR: Activists of one of the PTI groups allegedly took away ballot boxes, which marred the election. The polling was held despite a stay order by a local court.
At a hurriedly called press conference, Malik Aaamir told the media that Sheikh Abbas and Farzan Ali Goheer group in connivance with Election Commissioner Saqib Tariq took away ballot boxes. He said the polling could not be held as the membership had not been completed and his group had challenged it in a court of law.
GUJRAT: Indiscipline and violence exposed the lofty claims of change by the PTI. The voter turnout was remarkable.
The election commission had set up three polling stations in the city. As many as 1,400 office-bearers of 117 union councils in the district had to cast their votes to elect the office-bearers for Gujrat (both district and tehsil), Kharian and Sara-i-Alamgir.
The polling started three hours late due to errors in printing of ballot papers. There were reports of scuffle in Kharian, where polling had been stopped after the supporters of a group allegedly tore the ballot papers and snatched the ballot boxes from the staff.
In Gujrat tehsil the polling process was going on till last reports came in. There were interruptions and reports of minor clashes.
A man in queue told Dawn that the ballot paper should have been simple as every voter had to mark on at least 48 names for various slots.
Nawazish Ali Sheikh, a candidate for the office of the district president, admitted loopholes in the arrangements.
SIALKOT: The electoral exercise in Sialkot was postponed after hooliganism at the main polling station on Paris Road.
A spokesman for PTI, Advocate Khwaja Arif Ahmed told newsmen that peaceful polling was going on when some armed men belonging to both rival groups — Shahnawaz Group and Umer Farooq Group — stormed the polling station and halted the process. They also allegedly beat up the polling agents and ransacked the facility.
The polling remained suspended for four hours despite the police presence.
Some armed men led by Umer Ehsan, a candidate for Sambrial tehsil president, also stormed a polling station set up at a local hotel in Uggoki. They brutally beat up the polling agents, staff and voters and snatched the ballot papers and boxes.
Khwaja Arif said PTI chief Imran Khan had condemned the incidents of violence and ordered a probe against the violators of party code of conduct.
He said applications had been given to the Kotwali and Uggoki police stations for registration of cases.
KASUR: Four PTI workers suffered injuries in clashes at a polling station set up at a local hotel.
As many as 558 elected members at UC level and over 1,100 members cast their votes for the district and tehsil slots.
As the polling process was going on, some workers of Sheikh Qaisar group cried foul and accused Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri group of rigging. Soon after Mr Kasuri left the polling station, Rana Tanvir Riaz and Masood Bhatti exchanged harsh words which led to a scuffle. Rana Tanvir, Mian Ashraf Chawla, Sultan Ahmed and Ehtesham Ali suffered injuries.
The workers demonstrated outside the hotel and chanted slogans against the party leaders.
Sheikh Qaisar Ayub, one of the oldest workers in the district, said the genuine workers had been sidelined after ‘new faces’ had joined the party. He said the new participants wanted to hijack the party. He said the election commission had announced that the polls had been stopped but the rival group continued the process without lawful authority.