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Top Andhra Pradesh Officials To “Personally Explain” Post-Poll Violence

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Petrol bombs were thrown in Andhra Pradesh’s Palnadu after polling on Monday.

New Delhi:

The Election Commission has summoned the Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary and Director-General of Police to Delhi to “personally explain” the state machinery’s failure in containing multiple incidents of violence following voting for twin elections – the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls – held on Monday.

The EC – which in March had warned political parties against poll-related clashes, when polling dates were announced – has also told Chief Secretary Jawahar Reddy and DGP chief Harish Kumar Gupta – who was appointed by the poll body last week after his predecessor was transferred on complaints of bias – to take steps to guard against violence for as long as the Model Code is in place.

Sources told NDTV Wednesday that Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar has been “personally monitoring the election space to ensure the peaceful and violence-free conduct of elections”.

Violence was reported from across the state – supporters of the ruling YSR Congress Party and those from the Telugu Desam Party clashed – this week after polling for the central and state elections.

Violence was also reported during polling; there were reports of damaged EVMs, or Electronic Voting Machines, in Palnadu district’s Macherla, while there were also reports of petrol bombs being thrown and vehicles belonging to local officials, and one owned by the Bapatla MP, were set on fire.

One video showed licks of fire spreading across a building – the blaze bursts into life as unidentified people throw petrol bombs, and a carpet of fire covers the area outside.

As the video plays out more bombs are thrown and more fires break out, and a small mob bursts into view, waving sticks as they run off-camera, apparently chasing those who threw the weapons. In another video police fired in the air after stone-pelting involving a YSRCP candidate, Anil Kumar Yadav.

There was also violence from the temple town of Tirupati in the Chandragiri constituency, in which a candidate from former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP was injured. The opposition party blamed the YSRCP for the attack, which was reportedly carried out by an armed group.

READ | Chandrababu Naidu’s Party Candidate Injured In Andhra Post-Poll Violence

The incident occurred when the TDP candidate – Pulivarti Venkata Prasad, who was reportedly attacked by a mob wielding broken beer bottles and hammers – was returning after a visit to an EVM storage centre at a university. Mr Prasad and his associates were rushed to a hospital.

In retaliation, TDP supporters protested, demanding action against those involved in the attack. They also attacked a parked car carrying YSRCP flags. The protest was dispersed after the cops resorted to a baton charge. Special teams have been formed to investigate the incident, the police also said.

DGP Gupta has told NDTV the situation has been brought under control, and that at least 300 people, including those from both the YSRCP and TDP, had been arrested.

Orders banning large gatherings have been announced in Palnadu, Tadipatri, and Chandragiri, he said, adding that political leaders had been told to either leave their constituency or stay at home.

Chandrababu Naidu had posted a sharp attack on his political rival after the attacks.

“I strongly condemn the attack by YSRCP goons on Chandragiri constituency alliance candidate… The reasons are cowards who are afraid of defeat. If there are 150 YSRCP rowdies with knives and rods (in an area) where there is a strong room (for EVMs)… how is the voter’s verdict protected?”

“Violence was also committed on polling day… (but) even after polling attacks are carried out,” the TDP boss said, lashing out at the cops for failing to prevent the attacks and ensuring security for the people and politicians, and calling on the Election Commission to take action against those involved.

Scenes of violence during and after the election in Andhra Pradesh included shocking scenes from Guntur district, where a YSRCP lawmaker (and his associates) exchanged blows with a voter.

In a video that rapidly went viral, the YSRCP’s A Sivakumar is seen approaching the voter and slapping him across the face. The voter returns the blow, after the MLA’s aides join him in assaulting the voter.

READ | Video: MLA From Jagan Reddy’s Party Slaps Voter, He Hits Back

In the 10-second video, no security personnel can be seen intervening to rescue the voter.

A TDP spokesperson told NDTV the incident highlighted the ruling party’s desperation “because they know they are losing”, while a YSRCP leader alleged a conspiracy to defame the party.

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