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Torn ballot papers raises heat

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Enraged:Residents of Hanchinal village in Bijapur district staging a protest in front of the polling booth on Wednesday.
Enraged:Residents of Hanchinal village in Bijapur district staging a protest in front of the polling booth on Wednesday.

Staff Correspondent

Voting held up for over an hour at Hanchinal village

Voter creates scene, gets smacked by policeman

Protest against injury caused to victim

Bijapur: Tension prevailed at Hanchinal village in Bijapur taluk for some time during the gram panchayat elections as some of the contestants raised objections over torn ballot papers provided during voting.

The candidates alleged that the torn ballot papers would create confusion among voters as most of them were illiterate and could not recognise the symbols. The sustained efforts of officials concerned to convince the contestants failed and voting was stopped for more than one hour.

Things turned violent when a voter, allegedly tipsy, started using abusive language against police officers deputed for election work. The voter berated the police for allegedly not allowing him to enter the booth without a proper identity card. Irked by the use of abusive language, an inspector hit the voter, injuring his face.

To protest against the incident, residents of the village and the contestants began a dharna in front of the polling station.

Deputy Commissioner R. Shantraju and Assistant Commissioner Y.S. Patil, who visited the spot, convinced the voters that the ballot papers might have been damaged owing to poor handling by poll officers. The election process resumed after the authorities promised to take steps to rectify the mistake.

Elections in two wards of Madbhavi village in Bijapur taluk did not begin till the afternoon owing to missing names and symbols of candidates from ballot papers. The voters also alleged that the ballot papers had not been prepared properly in order to confuse voters. The residents demanded postponement of elections by a day or two.

Mr. Patil and Deputy Superintendent of Police Koth, who visited the spot and inspected the ballot papers, took them to the Deputy Commissioner's office for scrutiny. After correcting the mistakes and convincing the voters about the “minor errors” during printing, the election process began in the village.

Voting was peaceful in almost all other taluks in the district.

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