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Manipur records 68% polling marred by violence, firing, booth capturing

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: April 19, 2024 23:06 IST
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Incidents of firing, intimidation, destruction of EVMs at some polling booths and allegations of booth capturing were reported from conflict-hit Manipur that recorded a turnout of over 68 percent in the first phase of Lok Sabha polls on Friday.

IMAGE: Polling officials closed the booth at 5 Thongju, 31 Khongman Zone in Imphal after some women alleged irregularities and created a ruckus. Photograph: ANI on X

Both the BJP and the Congress accused each other of unleashing violence and breaching the election Model Code of Conduct.

The state which has been reeling under the conflict of ethnic violence since May last year has traditionally seen a very high voter turnout. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the state recorded a turnout of 82 percent.


Voting took place in two constituencies--Inner Manipur (32 assembly segments) and Outer Manipur (15 assembly segments)- on Friday while polling in the remaining 13 assembly segments in the Outer Manipur constituency will take place on April 26 in the second phase.

"A voter turnout of 68.82 percent has been recorded. While the Inner Manipur constituency has recorded 72.3 percent turnout, the poll percentage in Outer Manipur stood at 61.98 percent," said Pradeep Kumar Jha, chief electoral officer, Manipur.

Keirao constituency in Imphal East district recorded the highest turnout among all the 32 constituencies of Inner Manipur with 83.81 percent.

For Outer, Chandel which has both Naga and Kuki voters recorded the highest turnout with 85.54 per cent turnout. Kuki-dominated Henglep in the Churachandpur district recorded an 80.70 percent voter turnout while Saikul recorded the lowest with just 19.46 percent.

Chief Minister N Biren Singh's constituency Heingang recorded an 80 percent turnout followed by Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh's Nambol constituency, which recorded 79.88 percent.

According to sources, the incidents of EVMs being destroyed were reported from at least four polling booths by unidentified miscreants in Imphal East and Imphal West.

"An EVM machine was set ablaze at Moirangkampu Sajeb in Khurai constituency in Imphal East district and a 65-year-old man was also shot at by some unidentified gunmen. There has also been vandalism in at least one more polling station, in Uripok in Imphal West," an official source said.

"He was standing near a polling station when some armed assailants opened fire. He has been taken to a hospital in Imphal for treatment," a police official said.

Booth Level Officer for Moirangkampu Sajeb, Surbala Devi said, "Suddenly two men came and asked for polling agents of the Congress and the BJP. They took the Congress agent outside by holding his hand. Then the two men fired shots at him from inside the car."

In a separate incident, armed men also fired several rounds in the air near a polling booth in Thamnapokpi under the Moirang assembly constituency in Bishnupur district, prompting voters to flee, police said. They said additional security personnel were rushed to the spot to contain the situation.

Police officials also said that some unidentified armed men intimidated election agents of a particular political party at different places, including Uripok and Iroishemba in Imphal West district, and asked them to leave the polling stations.

"Incensed with the intimidation, voters at Iroishemba forcefully entered polling stations and destroyed election materials and equipment," the official said.
At Kiyamgei in Imphal East district's Keirao constituency, armed men fired blank shots and intimidated some polling agents.

Earlier in the day, an altercation broke out between voters and unidentified men at Khongman Zone 4 in Imphal East district, leading to damage to EVMs.

Congress candidate Bimol Akoijam also got into an argument with police personnel in a polling station at Kyamgei Heibong Makhong High School in Imphal East, where he alleged that polling agents of his party were being threatened.

BJP's state unit general secretary K Sarat Kumar alleged that Akoijam, accompanied by his supporters, visited several polling stations and provoked officials.

"Akoijam, accompanied by his supporters, visited several polling booths and disturbed the election atmosphere. We have filed a complaint with the chief electoral officer and returning officer," he told reporters.

The Congress also blamed the BJP for violence during voting in Inner Manipur.

Kh Devbrata, working president of the state unit of the Congress, told reporters: "We strongly condemn the acts of armed unidentified men entering polling stations and intimidating voters and indulging in proxy voting."

"We haven't seen the government try to conduct the polling peacefully in a free and fair manner," Devbrata said.

Girish Chodankar, the election in-charge of Manipur and Nagaland for AICC, wrote on X that violence and booth capturing by armed miscreants have been witnessed in several places despite a written submission to the chief electoral officer of "possible tension."

"They allowed frustrated BJP supporters to forcibly capture booths and prevent common people from exercising their voting rights, making a mockery of the elections. We have demanded repolling in such booths," he added.

Several voters took to social media to claim that their votes were already found cast when they reached the poll booth.

Manipur has witnessed sporadic, sometimes intense, ethnic clashes since May 3 last year between the majority Meitei community and the Kukis, resulting in the loss of more than 200 lives. While the Meiteis are now concentrated in Imphal city, the Kukis have moved to the hills.

More than 24,000 displaced people living in the relief camps were identified by the Election Commission as eligible voters and 94 special polling stations were set up for them.

No voting arrangements were made for those who left the northeastern state after the clashes.

A group of women marched to a polling booth in the Churachandpur district, which was the epicentre of the violence last year. They flashed posters and raised slogans of "No justice, no vote".

Ahead of polls, several bodies and civil society organisations had launched campaigns pushing for an election boycott saying "need the right to live before the right to vote".

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024