The attacks were reported from Muslim-majority villages that voted overwhelmingly for Samajwadi Party in the 2022 Assembly polls.

Residents of Mubarakpur who reported an attack by police officials on May 7. | Ayush Tiwari

By Ayush Tiwari

The sun was scorching when Mohammad Jamal, 18, stood in the queue to vote for the very first time in his life. It was around 10.30 am at the primary school in Mansoorpur village in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal parliamentary constituency.

Suddenly, nearly 10 SUVs came to a halt outside the polling centre, Jamal and other eyewitnesses said. About 30-40 police officials got out, entered the centre, snatched identity cards and voting slips from the voters and assaulted them with fibre batons and wooden lathis, they alleged.

It was May 7 and the third phase of voting for the Lok Sabha elections was underway.

“Two of the policemen came up to me and asked for my Aadhaar,” recalled Jamal, anxious and fidgety. “I was scared and handed it to them. Then a third one slapped me on my neck from behind. They kept beating me till I had left the booth.”

The polling centre turned desolate within minutes as voters ran out to escape the police assault. Jamal, whose legs still bear the imprint of the lathis, limped back home.

Scroll found reports of similar assault by the Uttar Pradesh police at polling centres in several Muslim-dominant villages in Asmauli Assembly constituency in Sambhal. In these villages, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has traditionally lagged behind its opponent, Samajwadi Party. In 2019, Samajwadi Party candidate, the late Shafiqur Rahman Barq, won the seat by 1.75 lakh votes.

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