Hyderabad: Between April 11 and May 19 this year, when the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections were held, there were 129 incidents of poll-related violence countrywide. About half the clashes were between activists of political parties, followed by incidents of mob violence.
The highest number of violent incidents was reported in South India and West Bengal. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have registered a high number of such attacks.
Out of the 129 incidents, 117 were directly related to the elections. These aside, India also witnessed caste riots, religious riots and caste murders among other incidents.
Two independent bodies, The Polis Project Inc and Political Violence and Justice Lab, tracked these incidents based on First Information Reports registered by the police and reports published in newspapers. According to the data available, Andhra Pradesh registered five of the 129 incidents of violence and Telangana state, five.
Kadapa, Anantapur, Guntur, Kurnool, Prakasam and Chittoor districts saw the most election related violence. A majority of the incidents were YSRC versus TD and a few were between BJP and the National People’s Party, a minor outfit. The incidents reported included clashes, manhandling, stone pelting, and attacks on convoys.
On polling day, April 11, violence erupted in parts of AP. One party worker each from the TD and the Opposition YSR Congress were killed. Among the more prominent incidents of violence on April 11 was the incidents at Sattenapalli, where the then Speaker Kodela Siva Prasada Rao was challenged by YSRC leader Ambati Rambabu.
In Telangana state, clashes were mainly between Congress and TRS workers and in a few incidents, Congress versus Congress workers. Incidents were registered in Khammam, Suryapet and Hyderabad.
Poll violence has continued even after the declaration of results, especially in AP. Many incidents of clashes have been reported between TD and YSRC cadres.
During the local polls in Telangana, violence claimed two lives in Mahbubnagar district. Prem Kumar, who works in a wine shop, joined BJP workers who were celebrating their party’s victory in local elections. He was stabbed multiple times on his chest, arm and back by a TRS man and died in hospital as recently as on June 5, after the conclusion of the elections to the zilla and mandal parishad.
Clashes between political workers accounted for most of the incidents.
Director of research and co-founder of The Polis Project Inc, Vasundhara Sirnate Drennan, said, “As you can see, clashes between the ‘vehicles of democracy’ (political parties), accounted for 50 per cent of all poll violence. The worst offending states in this regard were AP and West Bengal.”