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By Mohammad Sameer, APN, Sitapur

Reports of intimidation of voters are being received from Uttar Pradesh where the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are in a neck-and-neck fight. Poor voters, especially, are being browbeaten for voting against the will of their influential neighbours. Hari Shankar alias Kadhi, a Dalit, and his family members were severely injured in an attack by their neighbours and were forced to leave their home and the village with the threat that they would be killed if they returned. The incident occurred in Bhagipur village under Rampur Mathura police station in Sitapur region on February 19, during the third phase of polling in the state. The village falls in Sevata assembly constituency.

Hari Shankar, his wife, Sunita, and their son were beaten for voting for the BJP. When they returned after casting their votes, the neighbours gathered outside their house to enquire who they had voted for. On learning that it was the BJP, the crowd thrashed them badly. Hari Shankar got a head injury while Sunita’s blouse was torn by the attackers.

The victims told APN that the police got a complaint filed by them by force and they were then asked to leave the police station. On February 21, the victims said that they could not live in their home for the last three days. The police took them to their home on February 21 but they were again forced to leave the village by the neighbours. Hari Shankar says that they will now not return to their home and will have to go to their relatives in nearby villages.

However, Subhash Gangwar, a senior police officer, told APN that Kadhi had, on February 19, submitted a Non-Cognisable Report (NCR) about threats and an argument. He claimed that the investigation so far has revealed that the two families had an argument over playing ball in the ground. The police got the victims medically checked and action will be taken in accordance with the findings of the investigation.  

Mahender Kumar Singh of the SP is the incumbent MLA, while Shiv Kumar of the SP, Naseem Engineer of the BSP and Gyan Tiwari of the BJP are contesting  the Sevata assembly seat.

The interesting part is that the police forced the victims to file a complaint about a simple argument about “playing ball” while the attack was allegedly so serious that one person got a head injury and a woman’s blouse was torn by the attackers. No arrest has been reported yet.  

Shiv Kumar, APN correspondent from Mainpuri, adds: On February 19 Lalu Jatav, a Dalit youth, was shot dead by Vikram Thakur who wanted him to vote for the BJP. The incident took place in Naglatal village in Bhongaon constituency in Mainpuri region. Vikram Thakur was arrested on February 21.

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