BAHAWALNAGAR: The polling process was halted for almost an hour at the polling station number 63 in Pir Garh Chishti, McLeod Ganj, in PP-237 when workers of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) protested against police and the polling staff, accusing them of rigging in favour of the PML-N candidate.
TLP district emir Syed Sarwar Saifi told Dawn the polling staff removed their covering candidate from the polling station at about 9am and did not allow him to enter it. At about 3pm, the polling staff asked everyone to leave the polling station, telling them that the polling time had ended, he said and alleged that the staff then started stamping votes in favour of the PML-N candidate in the voting register by closing the station door.
Mr Saifi said when the TLP workers suspected foul play they tried to go inside the polling station to inspect the matter; however, the police officials forcibly stopped them from going inside.
He alleged that when they finally succeeded in entering the station, they saw the presiding officer casting fake votes while the voting register was full of stamped votes for the PML-N candidate without the entry of the computerised national identity card (CNIC) numbers.
Mr Saifi claimed that they had caught a man casting fake votes in favour of the PML-N, which could also be verified from the CCTV footage of the polling station.
Meanwhile, the TLP also recorded video clips of the incident, claiming that the voting register was stamped with the PML-N election symbol without the entry of the CNIC and posted it on social media. The clips made rounds on social media within no time.
Fakhar Sukhera, the spokesperson for Bahawalnagar chapter of the TLP, alleged the same tactic was also used at several other polling stations, including Merzeka and Tahliwala.
The DPO’s spokesperson Shehzad Ishfaq told Dawn that the DPO was personally looking into the matter and free and fair elections would be ensured at any cost.
A senior police official, requesting anonymity, told Dawn the TLP workers broke the law and issued threats to police officials deputed at the Pir Garh polling station. He said the TLP workers had broken into the polling station by scaling the walls of the polling station. He claimed that the register which the TLP workers claimed to be the voting register was just an ordinary register of voters’ biodata.
While sharing a video clip with Dawn, the officer further said the TLP men could be seen shouting at police personnel and pushing a senior police official at the said station.
He added that last September, all the TLP men who had kidnapped three police officials and injured 21 during their sit-in in the Qadri Mill area were let off the hook.