pecial Correspondent

Stray incidents during byelection to the post of Perumbakkam panchayat chief

There was no bogus voting though some attempts were made

A few DMK workers sustained bleeding injuries

TAMBARAM: Police lathicharged a section of partymen belonging to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam when they attempted to cross the restricted area near a polling station, where byelection to the post of Perumbakkam panchayat president was held on Wednesday.

Byelections were also held for the post of a ward member in Pozhichalur village panchayat and two ward members in Injambakkam panchayat on Wednesday. While voting went off peacefully in Pozhichalur and Injambakkam, tension prevailed in Perumbakkam.

Brisk polling commenced in the morning and by 10 a.m., 25 per cent of the total 8,888 votes were cast at the two polling centres — Bharathi Vidyalaya and Nookkampalayam Government School.

More than 200 policemen were deployed in these two centres. Around noon, a group of members belonging to the DMK alleged that independent candidates who had the support of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam were bribing voters who were on their way to the centre at Bharathi Vidyalaya. (In village panchayats, candidates for the post of ward members and presidents contest as independents and not in any party’s symbol.)

The DMK men advanced towards the voting centre, only to be pushed back by policemen. Voting continued peacefully, and an hour later, dozens of DMK partymen, including chairmen, vice-chairmen and councillors of urban and rural local bodies from different parts of Tambaram taluk and some parts of Kancheepuram district gathered a little ahead of the school. They came in cars and jeeps that sported their party flag.

Some DMK councillors of municipalities in the southern suburbs of Chennai even managed to enter the polling station and stood in the queue outside the booths. After agents of independent candidates complained to polling officials and policemen, they were sent out of the school premises.

Some time later, some of the senior leaders at the district-level unit of the party left the spot, but many cadres of DMK stayed on. Protesting alleged police high-handedness, they blocked the road and raised slogans against the policemen. Even after senior police officials appealed to them, they did not leave the spot. Following this, lathi-wielding policemen dispersed the DMK partymen.

Though there was no other untoward incident at the spot, the partymen assembled near the polling station again, towards the evening. This time too, policemen chased them away.

During the course of the police lathicharge, a few DMK partymen sustained bleeding injuries. Police officials said they repeatedly appealed to the partymen not to venture beyond the restricted area. After voting got over, police officials said that except for the problems posed by DMK men, polling went off smoothly. They added that there was no instance of bogus voting, though some attempts were made. Officials of St. Thomas Mount Panchayat Union said 5,776 votes of the total 8,888 were polled.