Marked by some episodes of violence, including burning of the election material at a polling station, the NA-221 Tharparkar by-election on Sunday suggested retention of the constituency by the Pakistan Peoples Party.
As per the unofficial results from 220 polling stations, the PPP’s candidate Pir Ameer Ali Shah Jilani was leading against his opponent Nizamuddin Rahimoon of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf with a massive 82,551 votes against the latter’s 35,061 votes.
The violent incidents were reported from three out of 318 polling stations in the constituency, which has a total of 281,900 registered votes, including 157,099 male and 124,801 female.
The polling material was allegedly set ablaze at one of these polling stations, stalling the voting process for around an hour, while a scuffle between supporters of the two sides left five persons injured at the other polling station. Women supporters of the PPP accused the PTI workers of harassment at a polling station.
The police and Rangers detained four persons, who reportedly belong to the PTI, from polling station number 126 at Kaisra.
They allegedly set on fire the polling material. The polling process remained suspended for an hour during which new ballots and boxes were supplied at the station to resume the polling.
PTI’s MNA Jai Prakash Lohano and MPA Abdul Razzak Rahimo said at a news conference that their polling agent had been arrested under the allegation of burning election material. They alleged that the PPP’s workers kept visiting and harassing the PTI’s workers and supporters at the polling stations.
“The PPP’s men burnt the polling station and now they are blaming us for it,” they said, adding that the PPP had sensed defeat in the by-polls due to which they created a law and order situation in many places.
PPP’s leader Taj Haider recorded a complaint with the Election Commission of Pakistan about violent incidents occurring at two polling stations, Kaisra and Jessi Ka Par, where women voters of the PPP accused the PTI’s supporters of harassment.
Five persons sustained light injuries during a scuffle between the supporters of the PPP and the PTI at polling station number 289, Sidharo.
Meanwhile, SSP Hassan Sardar Niazi in his statement denied the arrests.
According to him, preliminary investigation suggested negligence of the polling staff rather than a deliberate offence of burning. He said no police case has been lodged over the incident.
PPP’s Jilani expressed hope that he will sweep the polls while talking to the media after casting his vote. He said his party has served the people of Tharparkar more than any other party’s government in the past.
The NA-221 became vacant after the demise of PPP’s MNA Pir Noor Mohammad Shah on December 20, 2020, after he contracted Covid-19.
As many as 95 polling stations were declared very sensitive, 130 sensitive and 93 normal. Some 2,359 polling staff performed duty at the polling stations while the security was headed by six SSPs and 12 DSPs with deployment of 2,860 policemen in addition to the Rangers personnel.
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