RANJU DODUM | 19 APRIL, 2019
Violence Dots the N-E Landscape, High Voter Turnout
Mob attacks polling station in Manipur
ITANAGAR: Voting in the north-eastern states for the Lok Sabha elections have witnessed relatively high voter turnout but also incidences of violence.
The second phase of polling was held today for five Lok Sabha seats in Assam and one in Manipur.
While polling in Assam was peaceful, in Manipur, violence erupted in at least two polling stations today, allegedly leading to firing by security personnel.
Polling in Manipur was held for the Inner Manipur parliamentary constituency today. A source informed that at around 11.30 am, the Kiyamgei High Madrassa polling station located at Kiyamgei Muslim South-A in Imphal East district was sabotaged by unknown persons who alleged ‘misconduct’ by the presiding officer of the polling station.
An alleged video of the incident showed a number of people attacking the polling booth, destroying equipment at the polling station, including the EVM and VVPAT machines.
The presiding officer, L Lovely Singh, and micro observer P Gunachandra are reported to have sustained injuries due to the stone-pelting by the attackers.
There were also reports of firing by security personnel deployed at the polling station, apart from lathi charges that were made.
Manipur chief electoral officer, PK Singh, said that commotion began when “some miscreants attempted to cast votes for other voters”.
A statement from Singh said that the ‘miscreants’ began the attack “since the polling parties resisted and did not allow them to indulge in such illegal acts”. He also informed that CRPF personnel took to “open blank fire to disperse the mob which was getting violent”.
There were also reports that some journalists were manhandled by the attackers during the incident.
In another incident, EVMs at Urup Muslim polling station were also damaged by some polling agents and unknown miscreants at about 3 PM where polling had to be halted.
Manipur had already gone to poll for the Outer Manipur parliamentary constituency on April 11. Today, repolling was held for 19 polling stations for the constituency.
Voting will also be held again at 19 polling stations in Arunachal Pradesh where reports of violence allegedly to have been linked to the elections had begun even before the first votes had been cast.
In the insurgency-affected district of Tirap in the eastern part of the state bordering Myanmar, a worker of the National People's Party (NPP) was killed by a suspected NSCN(IM) member on March 29.
In Longding district, the Longding-Pumao MLA and NPP candidate, Thangwang Wangham, came under attack on voting day on April 11 when a scuffle broke out at a polling station. It was reported that members of an NSCN faction present near the polling station fired gunshots. Wangham was escorted away by his security officers.
Elsewhere, various incidences of violence was reported to officials, including former home minister Kumar Waii alleging that his BJP rival, Guruk Pordung and his supporters tried to kill him on voting day as he was returning to Seppa, the headquarters of East Kameng district.
In Nagaland, one person died in poll-related violence resulting from a clash between supporters of the Naga People’s Front and the Neiphiu Rio-led Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party in Zunheboto district.
During the first phase of voting for the Tripura West seat, several cases of violence were reported.
The Tripura East parliamentary constituency was set to go to polls on Thursday but the Election Commission deferred it to April 23 “law and order situation”, following inputs from the special police observers.
Police in Tripura today also arrested a supporter of the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), which is an alliance partner of the BJP in the state. The man was arrested on charges of attempting to attack the convoy of the Congress candidate, Pragya Dev Burman, in Khowai district.
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