As many as 1,400 Muslim voters from Undhela village in Gujarat’s Kheda district on Monday boycotted voting during the second phase of Assembly polls in protest against the public flogging of some men from the community by police two months ago, community leaders said.
Poll officials have denied the claim saying there was no boycott call. Community leaders said all 1,400 Muslim voters of the total 3,700 voters in the village, situated in Matar taluka, joined the protest and didn’t exercise their franchise when votes were cast across 93 Assembly seats in the second phase.
“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. We gave a boycott call to express our anger at the one-sided action by the police. Till now, no policemen have been suspended for their misdeed,” Maqbul Saiyad, a local Muslim leader from Undhela, claimed.
However, Kheda district collector KL Bachani cited local poll officials and 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. 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. 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. 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.