Manipur polls turn violent

NEW DELHI — An estimated 82 per cent of the electorate on Saturday exercised their franchise in Manipur assembly elections which was marred by militant violence that claimed seven lives, including that of militant.

By (Agencies)

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Published: Sun 29 Jan 2012, 11:41 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 11:27 AM

Chief Electoral Officer P C Lawmkunga said as per preliminary official reports, 82 per cent of the 17.50 lakh electorate cast their votes in the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur even as details from the state’s nine districts were awaited.

Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla said in New Delhi that a person, posing as a voter, entered a polling station in an interior area in Sugnu assembly constituency in Chandel district at around 12.30 and started firing indiscriminately, killing a CRPF man, three polling persons and a voter on the spot.

An injured voter, who was taken to Imphal in a helicopter, succumbed to bullet injuries. The shooter, who is yet to be identified, was also gunned down by CRPF personnel posted at the polling booth.

Bombs suspected to have been planted by militants were seized and defused before the start of polling in Khurai Chingangbam area, Sawombung High School, Khomidok in Imphal East district and Naoremthong High School area in Imphal West district, official sources said.

There were also reports from six other places in the state where mobs damaged Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and in another incident miscreants snatched an EVM, said Shukla.

Two CRPF personnel on poll duty were killed in an ambush by militants in Ukhrul district on Friday, the sources said. Alok Shukla said the final poll percentage would be available only after receiving details from across the state.

As polling continued till late due to long queues inside polling booths, election officials hoped the turnout would be higher.

The state had witnessed a polling percentage of 84.7 per cent in the 2007 general assembly elections while it was lower at 67.8 per cent during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Today’s voting saw the fate of Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh (Thoubal), Forest Minister and Congress leader Th Debendra (Jiribam), Congress nominee and Speaker I Hemochandra Singh (Shingjamei), former chief minister and NCP chief Radhabinod Koijam (Thangmeiband) and Manipur people’s party (MPP) leader and former deputy chief minister⅜ L Chandramani Singh (Patsoi) sealed in EVMs.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and his legislator wife Landhoni Devi cast their vote around 7.30 am at a polling booth in Thoubal Aphokpam Lower Primary School in Khangabok constituency. Landhoni Devi is the sitting legislator from Khangabok.

“I am expecting that the Congress party would secure around 45 seats. But 35 is the minimum number we are winning,” the chief minister told IANS.

A total of 279 candidates, including 15 women, were in the fray for the 60-member Manipur assembly. The EC had set up 2,365 polling stations and appointed 19 general observers, nine police observers and 13 expenditure observers, besides 64 assistant expenditure observers and 135 micro observers for smooth and fair polls in the state. While two helicopters were also pressed into service and video cameras used in these polls, live webcasting of polling was done in 60 polling stations

Two new features of this poll in Manipur were allowing voting through postal ballots to 197 members of insurgent groups lodged in camps under the Suspension of Operations (SOO) agreements and taking photographs of all voters exercising their franchise. Around 350 companies of security personnel, including 270 central para military personnel, were deployed besides the state armed police to ensure free and fair poll.

The run-up to the election witnessed several militant attacks.

A coordination committee of seven major militant groups had called for a ban on all election meetings and campaigning by Congress candidates.

Congress and its partner CPI, which comprise the ruling Secular Progressive Front, fought separately. While Congress contested all the 60 seats, CPI did so in 24.

Trinamool Congress, which has one member in the outgoing assembly and is an ally of Congress in West Bengal contested 47 seats on its own. Peoples Democratic Front, an opposition five-party alliance comprising Manipur Peoples Party, NCP, CPI-M, Janata Dal (U) and RJD, contested 43 seats.

BJP fielded candidates in 19 seats and Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP) in 34. Manipur unit of Nagaland-based party, Naga Peoples Front (NPF), contested in 12 constituencies in the hills.

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