Deputy Commissioner (DC) Sanghar Liaquat Ali Bhatti has begun an inquiry into the forcible marking of postal ballot papers of government employees at the Shahdadpur Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS), Dawn learnt on Thursday.
The DC, in his capacity as the monitoring officer of district Sanghar, called SIMS Director Dr Bachal Girwan and the additional district coordinator (ADC) for the National Programme for Family Planning and Primary Healthcare, Shama Gulani, to his office for an inquiry into allegations of forced marking of ballots in favour of a PPP candidate.
The complainant Hussain Bux Khaskheli, an independent candidate from PS-45 (Sanghar-V), was present during the inquiry.
He told the DC that ADC Shama Gulani called lady health workers (LHWs) to SIMS five days ago along with their individual ballot papers. He alleged that upon reaching the hospital, they were told to mark their ballot papers in favour of the PPP candidate.
Some LHWs objected to the rigging attempt by the ADC and reached the hospital with reporters and caught the officer red-handed with ballot papers.
He submitted to the DC Sanghar a video clip showing some LHWs complaining about forced marking of the ballot papers by the officers. Khaskheli also alleged that a suspended officer was also involved in the scam and fled from the scene when he saw him and others arriving.
On the condition of anonymity, an LHW told Dawn that they were called by SIMS authorities to the hospital along with their postal ballot papers. After they arrived, they were told by the ADC to mark their individual ballot papers in favour of the PPP candidate.
After the inquiry, Hussain Bux Khaskheli, who is the brother of a Grand Democratic Alliance candidate running from the same seat, Muhammad Bux Khaskheli, told reporters that he had submitted evidence of rigging in the postal ballot votes to the DC.
He demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan cancel all the postal ballot papers issued in the Shahdapur taluka due to widespread rigging in their marking.
Upon being contacted, the DC Sanghar told Dawn that evidence of misappropriation of ballot papers had been confirmed and that further details will be shared after completion of the inquiry.
Postal ballot is a service available for government officials, prisoners and the physically disabled, who cannot cast their votes by going to their respective polling stations.