A day before the civic body polls in Punjab, two clips purportedly showing a spat between former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA and Bhikhiwind station house officer started doing the rounds of social media. The incident reportedly took place at SAD candidate Manjit Singh’s residence in Bhikhiwind on Friday, the last day of campaigning.
In the video, Bhikhiwind SHO Sarabjit Singh and a few cops are seen standing on the ground floor while the former MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha, who is also the party’s district president, is on the first floor.
Valtoha is heard accusing the cops of threatening the party’s candidates at the behest of the ruling party. Reacting to him, the SHO is heard saying that the party’s leaders were violating the model code of conduct. The SHO is seen telling Valtoha that people from outside were gathering in the area and that some weapon-wielding people had fled after seeing the police team. To this, Valtoha tells him that the SHO himself is responsible for “allowing goons to resort to firing” on Akali workers. He also asked the SHO to “cast down his eyes” when the latter asked the former to “come down”.
Bhikhiwind is a hyper-sensitive polling station where SAD and Congress workers had resorted to firing on the second last day of filing of nominations.
Talking to HT, Valtoha said, “On February 2, the returning officer had given our candidates time to file the nominations, but the Congress workers in collusion with the police, headed by the SHO, had laid several obstructions. Our candidates were attacked with sticks, sharp-edged weapons and firearms. Even after this, the SHO had registered a case of attempt to murder against SAD candidates only.”
He added, “After getting interim bail, our candidates started campaigning from February 10, and since then the SHO had been threatening our candidates by sending police teams to their houses.”
He said on Friday at around 2 pm, he had given time to the local media for a press conference. “I was addressing a press conference when I heard some commotion outside. When I went outside, the SHO was threatening our workers,” he said.
The SHO, on the other hand, said, “I had gone there to stop the gathering of outsiders. There were some people who were possessing firearms. They fled from the spot after seeing the police team.”
Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Bhullar had earlier stated that February 2 incident was a result of instigation by SAD workers. On Friday, tehsildar of Bhikhiwind, Lakhwinder Singh, former returning officer, was suspended by the state election commission for remaining absent from the election duty.