Two killed as violence, mismanagement mar Sindh LG polls

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KARACHI
At least two persons were killed and dozens were left injured in separate incidents of violence during the Sindh local bodies polls, which were also marred by electoral mismanagement on Sunday.
The voting time of the first phase of local body elections in Sindh concluded at 5pm today. Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has postponed elections in some areas over technical issues including Ghotki district’s Mirpur Mathelo after wrong names of candidates were printed on ballot papers.
Reports of missing electoral symbols on ballot papers, male presiding officers deputed at women’s polling stations, and incomplete electoral rolls were received from other cities. Violence in Sukkur, Kandhkot, Nawabshah, Ghotki and Mirpur Mathelo left dozens of people injured.
At least one polling station in Kandhkot was attacked by dacoits. Brother of PTI candidate Zafar Gandapuri at Tando Adam’s Municipal Ward number 13 in Sanghar was killed when clashes broke out between the PTI and PPP workers at a polling station. The clash also left several people wounded.
Another man was shot dead and three were injured during a clash between JUI and PPP workers in Sukkur. The two parties were clashing over election proceedings at a polling station in Rohri.
In a similar incident, polling in Municipal Committee Ward 13 was suspended after a conflict resulted in the death of one person in Tando Adam.
The polling station was immediately shut down after the incident. Sindh IGP Ghulam Nabi Memon has 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 during the local bodies polls in Kandhkot on Sunday.
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 suspended at the site owing to infeasible circumstances. A scuffle between PPP and JUI candidates also broke out in Sukkur that left two people injured including JUI general councilor candidate Ghulam Mustafa.
The incident was reported in Fareed Mehr polling station in Pano Aqil. JUI candidate has alleged that the attack was ‘unprovoked’.
Meanwhile, in Nawabshah, armed gunmen have taken the staff of the social security polling station and policemen hostage. 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 Benazirabad 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 GDA candidate’s car. The firing has stopped at the site as per the latest reports.
The PPP and GDA workers also clashed in district Ghotki UC Ali Mahar. Polling was stopped after the conflict was reported. According to sources, the 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 “ZardariMafia goons 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!” Whereas in Shahdadkot, police have arrested JUI candidate Saddam Sangha after a fight ensued on casting vote in women’s polling booth between JUI and PPP candidates in UC 20.
Police were called to diffuse tension as the faceoff between PPP and PTI workers continues at Saleh Pat polling station in Sukkur. As per initial reports, polling was stopped in ward 1 while PTI candidate protested the illegal appointment of a male officer in the female booth of ward 4.
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 booths were also received from the polling stations of 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 has said that as many as 1200 ballot papers were registered and 300 are missing from his polling station. Reports have also emerged from Naushahro Feroze about the shortage of polling staff and incomplete voter lists.
The presiding officer of Sulaiman polling station said he could not facilitate the voting process owing to the absence of the complete voter list and staff. Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Waseem Akhtar said that massive rigging was happening in the local bodies elections in the interior part of Sindh, adding that it was the same fear against which MQM-P had approached the high court.
He said that dacoits have kidnapped the administration officials while the ballot boxes have been taken away by activists of a political party. He said the firing and assault incidents during the by-polls are other than that.
Akhtar demanded 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 are currently underway, it is better the process would not have been carried out. He said that free and fair elections are impossible in the prevailing situation and added that it has also raised questions about the performance of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
The local bodies polls in Sindh are being 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.