Around 12:30pm, I was making the rounds of polling stations in the city as part of my assignment for the day. As I walked into the Adarsh Nagar polling booth (No. 101) near the Sanganeri Gate in the city, a huge crowd in this Muslim-dominated area rushed out complaining.
For some, it was their names missing from the voters’ list, others spoke out about VVPATs not functioning. But prime among the complaints was that the white-bearded polling officer, sporting a tilak on his forehead, had been insisting that voters press the Number 1 button on the EVM and cast their votes in favour of BJP candidate Ashok Parnami.
“We were asked to press the Number 1 button. Who is he to ask us to vote for a particular candidate?” grumbled Yusuf Qureshi.
Startled, I rushed into the polling booth only to be greeted by a posse of police and polling officers. I inquired about the polling officer only to be accosted by Lal Kothi SHO Raj Kumar Sharma. He came at me and shouted — “How did you enter the polling station?”
I showed him the accredited pass and asked, “How can you allow a polling officer to continue with his duty. He is influencing voters.”
Enraged, he shoved me and threatened to put me behind bars. Some took me outside the polling booth to apologise for the SHO’s behaviour.
Later, the polling official was removed from duty, said Adarsh Nagar Returning Officer Indrajeet Singh.