CPI(ML) members have alleged that Dalit villagers were stopped from voting in Jamua in Giridih district in first phase of polling for Koderma constituency in Jharkhand on April 10 by upper-caste landlords and have demanded a re-poll. They alleged that the villagers, including women, were physically assaulted when they arrived at the polling booth. Election Commission officials said they had not received reports that confirmed CPI(ML)’s allegations from their staff.
“We received reports that seals were broken and tampered with in two booths in Bagodar and four in Dhanwar and we will hold re-poll there but we did not receive inputs reporting any incident from Jamua,” said Chief Electoral Officer PK Jajoria.
“When we reached the polling station, several men attacked us with lathis. One of them assaulted me on the chest and stopped me from casting my vote, ten persons from the village got injured, five were bleeding,” said Uma Devi a Dalit farmer from Gardi village in Giridih’s Jamua block. CPI(ML) Politburo member Manoj Bhakta said the party had registered an FIR against Suraj Narayan Dev who led the men whom he alleged injured 10 villagers.
Giridih Superintendent of Police Kranti Kumar refuted the party’s allegation. “According to my staff, the party’s workers and Suraj Narayan Dev have a rivalry and a scuffle broke out between the two groups. We did not receive any such reports of villagers not being allowed to cast their vote,” he said.
“There are six assembly seats in the Koderma consituency and six booths were captured. The administration is anti-Dalit and are siding with feudal powers in this area,” alleged CPI(ML)’s Koderma candidate Raj Kumar Yadav. “We were encouraging the villagers to vote as they think right but Suraj Narayan’s goons did not let them,” said Sunil Singh a CPI(ML) worker in Jamua. When the villagers asserted that they would vote for the candidates of their choice, the landlords became angry. For years they had suppressed them and dictated whom they should vote for, he added.
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