Catalonia votes for freedom amid chaos

Oct 02, 2017, 11:30 IST | Agencies

Over 460 injured after Spanish riot police storm activist-held polling stations as thousands flood streets to vote independence referendum

Spanish riot police burst into polling stations across Catalonia on Sunday, confiscating ballot boxes and voting papers to try to halt a banned referendum on a split from Spain as Madrid asserted its authority over the rebel region. The Mayor of the regional capital Barcelona Ada Colau issued a statement demanding "an immediate end to police charges against the defenceless population".

People clash with Spain's Guardia Civil guards outside a polling station in Sant Julia de Ramis. Pic/AFPPeople clash with Spain's Guardia Civil guards outside a polling station in Sant Julia de Ramis. Pic/AFP

Madrid said its police had acted in a proportionate manner.Police broke down doors to force entry into voting stations as Catalans shouted "Out with the occupying forces!" and sang the anthem of the wealthy northeastern region. In one incident in Barcelona, police fired rubber bullets.

Officers in riot gear hit people with batons and forcibly removed would-be voters, including women and the elderly, from polling stations. Catalan officials said over 460 people had been injured in the police crackdown and the Spanish Interior Ministry said 12 police had been hurt. It remained unclear what action the Catalan government might take. However much voting takes place, a "yes" result is likely, given that most of those who support independence are expected to cast ballots.

The referendum
The referendum poses the question: "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?" But it has been ruled unconstitutional by the central government and the courts, with judicial officials ordering police to seize ballot papers, detain key organisers and shut down websites promoting the vote.

5.3m
No. of people called on to vote in the referendum

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