Physical distancing norms thrown to the wind

Physical distancing norms were thrown to the wind in a few rural polling stations where the police and the election authorities had a tough time managing the crowd.

To disperse an irate group that defied the COVID-19 protocol near a booth at Theruvanparamba, the Nadapuram police had to fire tear gas shells many times. The infuriated group later locked horns with the police and damaged a patrol vehicle.

Tension prevailed in the area, as UDF workers accused the police of misbehaving with them in the name of enforcing the physical distancing protocol. The protesters who thronged the area for nearly an hour alleged that a senior police officer from the Nadapuram station had used rude words against voters.

A merchant from the area said policemen had triggered protest with their “immature approach and arguments”. The situation was brought under control after senior police officers and a Deputy Collector agreed to hold conciliatory talks, he added.

Amid the clash, a group of LDF workers reached the scene, claiming that the police had acted promptly against the UDF workers who had defied the the COVID-19 protocol. It fuelled further clashes between LDF and UDF workers.

Later, the booth was fortified by deploying additional police personnel. Only voters were allowed to enter the compound. Video cameras were also used to capture movements of suspected individuals. A senior officer from the Nadapuram police sub division said action would be initiated against those who were caught on camera violating the protocol

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