Six police officers were suspended in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district on Friday in connection with poll violence and the molestation of a woman associated with the Samajwadi Party, The Indian Express reported.

On Thursday, violence was reported during filing of nominations for block panchayat heads elections. In a video from Lakhimpur Kheri, two men were seen pulling a Samajwadi Party worker’s sari as she was entering a nomination centre. The worker was a proposer for an SP-backed candidate.

“Six policemen were suspended in connection with the incident on Friday,” Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said. The suspended police offices are Circle Officer (Mohamdi) Abhay Pratap, Station House Officer of the concerned police station Adarsh Pasgawan, Inspector Hanuman Prasad and three sub-inspectors – Durgesh Gangwar, Ugrasen Singh and Mahesh Pratap, reported The Times of India.

Two men – Brij Kishore and Yash Verma – have been arrested in connection with the molestation incident. A police case has also been registered against several other unidentified people. All the accused have been booked under Indian Penal Code provisions relating to rioting, robbery and molestation.

Chief Minister Adityanath promised strict action against those found guilty in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident. He said the police must ensure proper security outside the polling stations. The elections will be held on Saturday.

Opposition leaders had criticised the Uttar Pradesh government over the violence during the nomination process and the sexual harassment of the Samajwadi Party worker. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had accused Bharatiya Janata Party workers of perpetrating violence. He had described them as “power hungry goons” of the chief minister.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too had accused BJP workers of indulging in violence. “The prime minister and chief minister should extend ‘congratulations’ on how their workers in Uttar Pradesh indulged in stone-pelting and firing, looted nomination papers, beat up journalists and misbehaved with women,” she had said on Twitter.

The BJP, however, had denied the Opposition leaders’ accusations. “If there has been any violence in districts, the administration will do the needful,” state BJP vice president Vijay Bahadur Pathak had said.

Polls for block panchayat chiefs

Voting for 825 block panchayat chiefs will be held on Saturday and the counting will be held later on the same day.

During the nomination process on Thursday, violence had also erupted in Sitapur, Bahraich, Unnao, Kannauj, Jaunpur, Etah, Basti and Sidharthnagar. At some places, workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Samajwadi Party attacked each other with crude bombs and bricks.

Last week, the BJP had swept the elections to the posts of district panchayat chief in Uttar Pradesh, winning 67 of 75 seats. The Samajwadi Party won five seats while the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Jansatta Dal and an Independent candidate won one seat each.

These were indirect elections where new members of the district councils voted to elect the panchayat chiefs. Akhilesh Yadav had pointed out that it was strange that while most results in the elections for the Zila Panchayat members were in favour of his party, the BJP secured victory in the polls for the district panchayat chief.

He had alleged that the BJP was forcing Zila Panchayat members of the Samajwadi Party in Auraiya, Mainpuri, Firozabad, Etah, Hapur, Siddharthnagar, Rampur, Gorakhpur and Farrukhabad to vote in its favour, The Wire reported.