A Moga first: Police team camp at gurdwara after complaint
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THOUGH Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) had campaigned and gathered numbers for the ruling SAD in past state polls, this was the first time in Punjab's poll history that a police team was stationed at a gurdwara in Moga following allegations that "outsider" leaders were camping there and trying to influence voters for the February 23 bypoll.
It all happened following a complaint by the Congress that Chief Parliamentary Secretary Virsa Singh Valtoha was hiding in a gurdwara in Daroli Bhai village with his men on February 22 — a day before the bypoll.
The same day, a police team was sent to the village thrice and finally one had to be stationed there. "When the police reached the gurdwara, a religious function was going on. The announcements at gurdwaras fall under the purview of poll code of conduct but we cannot stop religious functions. We searched the gurdwara but no leader from outside was found. Finally, we had to station a police team under a DSP there," Moga SSP Ashish Chaudhary said.
But Congress leader Inderjit Singh Zira claimed that special akhand paths were held in gurdwaras under SGPC in the last two days, where liquor slips and cash were distributed. "We had informed the election observer about it but when the raiding team reached there, they had gone inside and locked the rooms from the outside. We had all heard of liquor slips being distributed during polls but for the first time, they were distributed inside gurdwaras," the former MLA alleged.
A complaint was also lodged regarding an announcement made in favour of SAD candidate Joginderpal Jain in a gurdwara by a person who claimed to have been present at the gathering where the announcement was made. "We had held meetings with gurdwaras and told them not to make political announcements or to shelter outsiders. There have been complaints during the bypoll but not were not found to be true," Punjab Chief Electoral Officer Kusumjit Sidhu said.
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