MP bypolls: Two firing incidents reported in Ater seat
Firing incidents were reported from at least two places after Congress and BJP workers clashed during the bypoll in Madhya Pradesh’s Ater assembly seat on Sunday.The State Electoral Office dismissed reports of booth capturing. Two more Special Armed Forces (SAF) companies (nearly 200 personnel) have been pressed into service at Ater, where 34% polling was recorded by 1 PM.In Bandhavgarh (Umaria), another assembly segment where polling is underway on Sunday, voter turnout was 37 % by 1 PM.“The firing incidents were reported from two places.The security personnel fired in the air at Sankri village booth to avoid a clash between the BJP and Congress workers.“Another incident of firing was reported near booth number 172 (Goarkala),” State Electoral Officer of Madhya Pradesh Salina Singh told reporters at a press conference.“The incident of firing took place one kilometre away from booth number 172 and as of now more details of this incident are awaited,” said Ms. Singh.She denied any booth-capturing in Ater and Bandhavgarh.“There was no booth capturing incident reported from Ater and Bandhavgarh. All the booths in Ater were declared sensitive. We have talked to the state DGP. After these incidents, we have called two additional SAF companies from Morena to strengthen the security arrangements,” she added.When asked about allegations of Congress that gun shots were fired at its candidate in Ater Hemant Katare at Sankri village booth, Ms. Singh said that there was a dispute between booth agents of Congress and BJP.“The Congress candidate stayed for a long time inside the booth. This deteriorated the situation resulting in a clash between the polling agents. Police had to fire in the air to control the situation. Some vehicles were also damaged during this clash,” she added.Ms. Singh said that both the Congress and BJP candidates were provided additional security.The State Electoral Officer also informed that six police officials were transferred late Saturday night on a complaint of Congress.She said that EVMs and voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines were changed at five places in Ater and three places at Bandhavgarh during the mock poll.“One voter had complaint about VVPAT at one place in Ater but his complaint was found to be untrue,” she added.In Ater, the Congress has fielded Hemant Katare, son of former Leader of Opposition Satyadev Katare, whose death necessitated the by-poll.From BJP, former MLA Arvind Singh Bhadoria is contesting the byelection.The by-election in Bandhavgarh seat was necessitated after its MLA Gyan Singh was elected to the Lok Sabha in November last year.The main contest in Bandhavgarh (ST) seat is between BJP’s Shivnarayan Singh, son of Gyan Singh, and Savitri Singh of Congress.The counting of votes will take place on April 13.