Miscreants set fire to polling station during Thar by-election

THARPARKAR: The polling during a by-election on a National Assembly seat was interrupted in the Kesarar area of Tharparkar on Sunday when unknown miscreants set ablaze a polling station, reducing ballot papers and other polling material to ashes.

Sindh police have arrested four individuals, officials said.

The seat had fallen vacant after the death of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MP Noor Mohammad Shah due to Covid-19 in December.

Analysts see the real contest between Pir Ameer Ali Shah Jilani of the PPP and Nizamuddin Rahimoon of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Thar Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Nawaz Soho said that the district administration had taken various measures to hold the election in a fair and transparent manner.

Speaking on the incident, PTI candidate Nizamuddin Rahimoon alleged that the blast took place at the Kesrar polling station “under police supervision”.

“My agents have been arrested and my voters are being chased away, but the people of Tharparkar will ensure that the truth wins,” he said, claiming that the police were aiding his opponents.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in a telephonic conversation with the the chief election commissioner (CEC) discussed the by election in Tharparkar on Sunday.

CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja, in the telephonic conversation, said that all possible steps will be taken to ensure holding a peaceful and fair by-election.

The election commission chief also said that no political intervention or negligence will be tolerated in the election.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah assured the CEC, wholehearted cooperation from the provincial government and the administration to the election commission for the by-election.

“The by-election at NA-221 has been in progress peacefully,” the provincial election commissioner maintained. “The chief minister has informed about the situation during the by-election in Tharparkar,” the provincial election commissioner said.

“The harassment claim from the PTI candidate is incorrect and the claim about harassment of voters in the constituency is baseless,” the provincial election chief said.

“No political intervention will be tolerated in the by-election”, the Sindh election commissioner further said.

On the other hand, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in a letter had asked the CEC to take notice of the violations in the by-election in NA-221 Tharparkar.

“A polling station has been set on fire, ballot boxes were burnt and women voters were subjected to harassment,” the PPP said in its letter.

The party also demanded steps from the election commissioner to ensure transparency in the electoral process.

It is pertinent here to mention that the PPP seems likely to retain its hold on NA-221. Counting is underway as of the time of filing and PPP candidate Pir Ameer Ali Shah Jilani is leading with 70518 votes. Meanwhile, PTI candidate Nizamuddin Rahimoon is in the second lead with 29057 votes.

The total number of registered voters in the constituency was 281,900. Of whom, 157,099 were men and 124,801 were women.

318 polling stations had been set up, 79 for men, 78 for women, and 161 combined polling stations with 857 polling booths, 456 for men and 401 for women.

95 polling stations had been declared highly sensitive and 130 sensitive with 2,350 staffers deployed.

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