82% turnout in Manipur, 7 killed in violence

Last Updated: Saturday, January 28, 2012 - 22:54

Imphal/ 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 an ultra.

Chief Electoral Officer P C Lawmkunga said as per
preliminary official reports, 82 per cent of the 17.50 lakh
electorate cast their votes 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 yesterday, 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 minister] L Chandramani
Singh (Patsoi) sealed in EVMs.

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. A helicopter
was also kept on standby for emergencies.

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
in 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
consttuencies in the hills.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, January 28, 2012 - 08:28

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