Violence mar first phase poll
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, April 20: Conducted under the cloud of election boycott and ban on poll related activities of certain candidates, the first phase polling for the Outer Manipur Parliamentary constituency was marred by snatching of poll materials, abducting agents, polling officials and mixed turnout today.

At Kasom Khullen in Ukhrul district, a jawan of the 6 MR was killed while another two or three personnel were injured when militants ambushed their convoy today at about 6 pm.

While sporadic incidents of polling material snatching are reported from Churachandpur and Senapati district, Thoubal recorded the highest number of such cases.

Seven Assembly Constituencies in Thoubal district are included in the Outer Manipur Parliamentary constituency.

Mention may be made that the UKLF and KNF had imposed a ban on two Kuki candidates in the Outer seat while the UNLF had called a general strike from midnight of April 19 till 5 pm today denouncing Indian election.

One Presiding Officer has been reportedly kidnapped in Churachandpur district while the whereabouts of two polling agents of the BJP remains unknown after they were whisked away by unidentified persons while on their way to 47/43 Senapati (A) and 47/43 Senapati (B) polling stations.

As news of kidnap of the BJP agents identified as P Lohrii and KN Tennyson spread not a single voter turned up at the two polling stations.

Polling also ended abruptly at 49/33 (A) and (B) when around 20 miscreants snatched and destroyed poll material following heated arguments between supporters of rival candidates.

Compared to electorates of Ukhrul district and Mao Sub-division of Senapati district exercising their democratic rights in large number, low turn out and snatching of poll material marred those held in some Assembly segments of Thoubal, Churachandpur and Tamenglong districts.

Unidentified armed men believed to be underground cadres descended at 13 polling stations scattered in different Assembly Constituencies and decamped with poll material at around midnight yesterday.

Ascertaining the incident, officials manning the election control room said the armed persons took away poll material from three polling stations under Hiyanglam Assembly constituency (38/24, 25&26) of Thoubal district.

Bright sunshine after heavy rainfall for about a week failed to attract voters to the 205 polling stations in some Assembly segments of Thoubal district that recorded low polling percentage with the UG diktats hanging over their head.

The Thoubal district Deputy Commissioner informed that unidentified men snatched and destroyed poll material in 13 polling stations but with reinforcement of security personnel the materials requisitioned and polling continued subsequently.

The polling stations in Thoubal district where incidents of poll material snatching occurred are Tokpa-Ching (38/22) Sarikkhong (38/23), Thongam Mondum (39/1), Kakching Khunou Junior High School (39/5), kakching Khunou Junior High School (39/6), Tampak Mayum School (39/8), Kakching Khunou LP School (39/9), Chairel LP School (39/16), Khongyang LP School (39/17), Arong Khunou (38/24), Arong Junior HS (38/25), Arong Nongmaikhong (38/26), and Nongpok Sekmai (33/4).In Tangjeng Primary School polling station polling had to be stopped as the materials were snatched by unidentified persons who also set afire a Canter bus carrying polling and security personnel.

Till late evening there is no report of requisition of the materials to continue polling.

According to the Thoubal DC wireless transmission of polling officers from the district headquarters with far flung areas of Thoubal were disrupted by communication sets used by underground cadres.

Similar incident occurred at polling stations number 39/1,5,6,8,9&20 within Sugnu assembly constituency, said the officials adding poll materials were also taken away from Henglep AC (57/35), Churachandpur (58/42) and Saikot (59/49) last night.

Three Tata Sumos and one bus carrying poll personnel were set ablaze by unidentified armed persons near Arong Khunjao Litan Thong and Tokpaching respectively in Thoubal district yesterday night.

The poll personnel were provided unarmed security personnel, said sources.

Today morning, incident of poll material snatching by unidentified persons has been reported from 36/19 polling stations of Wabagai AC.

Deputy Commissioner of Chandel district also informed that poll process at Khumbi village (42/13), Lamlong Khullen (42/11), Kangoi (42/14) and Kangoi (42/15) under Chandel district had to be stopped following destruction of poll materials including electronic voting machines (EVMs) by armed miscreants.

EVMs were also destroyed in Tuisem (55/5), Thigamphai (58/37), Ngoiphai (59/49) and Geljang (55/42) polling stations spread across Churachandpur district.

Till late evening poll personnel detailed for 56/6 Leijanphai polling station failed to report to their designated place.

Manipur Rifles personnel manning 42/12 Langol polling station within Tengnoupal AC had an exchange of fire with heavily armed suspected underground activists during poll hours.

However, there is no report of casualty on either side.

Exchange of gunfire at around 11.30 am were also reported at a polling station opened at Nongpok Sekmai Junior High School.

Meanwhile, BJP candidate Loli Adanee citing booth capture has lodged complaint to the Returning Officer to countermand polling in Maram AC's 49/18 (A), 49/19 (B), 49/20 (A), 49/20 (B), 49/22 (A) and 49/23 (B).

Unidentified persons destroyed the EVMs while they were being taken back to the district headquarters of Senapati today.

The incident took place at Ngamju village.

EVMs of Thingba Khullen A and B were also destroyed near Lairou today evening.

In contrast polling was held in a free and fair manner with huge turnout at Ukhrul district while franchise has been completed for Mao AC as early as noon itself with reports of huge turnout in the constituency.

In Phailen Ragailong village (51/44-C) located at the foothill of Langol range and clubbed within Saitu AC of Senapati district polling was conducted at a brisk rate with 411 electorates exercising franchise out of the total elegible voters of 432.At Churachandpur polling officers were kidnapped and votes cast in their absence, while rival groups belonging to various parties fought for the EVM machine.

At least one EVM machine was also damaged.

One polling officer returned on foot to the DC Office this afternoon without security with the EVM machine dangling at his side.