Gujarat polls: Muslim villagers claim they boycotted voting over Kheda public flogging

Poll officials have, however, denied the claim saying there was no boycott call

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As many as 1,400 Muslim voters from Undhela village in Gujarat’s Kheda district boycotted voting during the second phase of the state Assembly polls in protest against the public flogging of some men from the community by police two months ago, community leaders have claimed.

Poll officials have, however, denied the claim saying there was no boycott call.

Seven persons, including a policeman, were injured when stones were thrown at a Garba event in Kheda district in October by a group allegedly comprising members of the Muslim community. They had objected to holding the event near a mosque.

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The uproar

Later, videos showing policemen in plain clothes beating some men, suspected to have thrown stones, with sticks in front of other villagers went viral on social media, causing an uproar.

On Monday, community leaders said all 1,400 Muslim voters of the total 3,700 voters in Undhela village, situated in Matar taluka, joined the protest and didn’t exercise their franchise when polling was held across 93 assembly seats of the state in the second phase, PTI said.

Boycott call

“All Muslim voters from the village stayed away from the voting process as a mark of protest against the public flogging and the administration’s refusal to punish the guilty,” local Muslim leader Maqbul Saiyad claimed.

“We gave a boycott call to express our anger at the one-sided action by police. Till now, no policemen have been suspended for their misdeed,” he said.

‘No complaint’

However, Kheda Collector K L Bachani, while citing local poll officials, said there was no boycott call.

“As per the returning officer’s report, no such incident has taken place and no one has approached us with any such issues. As per our record, 43 per cent of voters did turn up in Undhela to vote today,” said Bachani.

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The counting of votes for all 182 assembly constituencies in Gujarat — which went to polls in two phases on December 1 and 5 — will be taken up on December 8.

(With agency inputs)