Haryana police have charged state minister Manish Grover and former Congress assembly lawmaker BB Batra for allegedly entering a polling booth without permission and disorderly conduct in Rohtak district of the state.
Mr Grover, the Minister of State for Cooperation, and Batra, the ex-lawmaker from Rohtak, were Wednesday charged under Section 188 of the IPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and Section 131 of the Representation of the People’s Act (disorderly conduct in or near polling stations) in Shivaji Colony police station, Rohtak, on the complaint of an Assistant Returning Officer, a police official said Thursday.
As per the complaint, Grover and Batra had allegedly entered a polling booth inside a school without permission and created ruckus when polling was underway in the Rohtak parliamentary constituency, which went to polls on May 12 along with nine other Lok Sabha seats in the state.
From Rohtak, Congress’s sitting Lok Sabha lawmaker Deepender Singh Hooda is seeking re-election for a fourth term.
A day after the polling, Congress general secretary in-charge, Haryana, Ghulam Nabi Azad had written to the Chief Election Commissioner seeking appropriate action against Mr Grover for allegedly intimidating voters and “illegally sabotaging” polling in Rohtak, a charge which the BJP leader had vehemently denied.
“I was completely taken aback by the brazen misuse of muscle power by Manish Grover, the Haryana Minister, along with 50 goons and a history-sheeter namely Ramesh Lohar, in 10 cars, who were carrying arms, two fake number plates, 15 cartridges of .32 bore, entered polling booth no 142, 143, 145, 146, 149 and 150 in Rohtak city along with official police commandos in order to sabotage and influence the polling,” Mr Azad had alleged in his letter.
While polling was underway in the state, the Rohtak police had arrested Lohar, along with his accomplice Sunil, in front of a school and seized three fake vehicle number plates, 15 cartridges of 0.32 bore, sticks and lathis.
He was released on bail, but subsequently re-arrested after some fresh charges were added to the complaint.
Mr Batra had alleged that Mr Grover, along with a number of muscle men, entered the polling booth to intimidate the voters.
Mr Grover had termed the allegations baseless. He had alleged that there were complaints against Congress workers entering the booth without permission and intimidating voters.
On Thursday, Mr Batra told reporters, “I went to check after getting information that minister Grover, along with muscle men, was moving around in Rohtak city and entering polling booths without permission.”
He alleged that Mr Grover entered into an altercation when he confronted him for entering polling booths.
“I told him that he cannot go around intimidating voters and try to influence the polling by moving around with large number of muscle men. As he holds an office of profit, he could not even become an election agent or enter booths to check, so he had not business to be there,” Mr Batra said.
He demanded that the BJP leader be also booked for “terrorising voters and intimidating them”.
Referring to police arresting Lohar from near a polling booth on the day of polling, Mr Batra said, “Everyone knows Lohar is close to the ruling BJP and has even shared stage with its leaders. The recovery of lathis and weapons from him shows that a conspiracy had been hatched to influence the voting process in Rohtak.”
On being charged by the police, Mr Batra said, “We raised the matter of voter intimidation. I went to stop the minister and those muscle men. There are video recordings of the same, which make things quite clear. Now, if stopping crime is a crime, then what can one say.”
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