Campaigning ends, 76 in fray
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, February 21: The third and final phase of polling scheduled for February 23 covering Churachandpur, Tamenglong and Chandel districts besides Jiribam sub-division will decide the fate of 76 candidates.

The campaigning period for the last phase of polling also ended today afternoon.

All the poll officials, escorted by security personnel, have also left for their respective polling stations along with EVMs.

Poll officials for 40/16 and 40/17 polling stations under Jiribam A/C who have to trek and travel by boat for about 14 kms left Jiribam today morning together with security personnel.

In the face of NSCN (K)'s ban on all the 5 candidates of Tamenglong A/C, polling officials of 57 polling stations left district Hqs today amidst tight security.

Polling officials for 11 other polling stations left yesterday too.

Officials for all the remaining polling stations of Tamenglong district and Jiribam sub-division will set off tomorrow.

For Churachandpur and Chandel districts too, polling personnel have started leaving for their respective polling stations today.

Amidst tight security arrangement under the supervision of IGP (Law and Order II), polling officials of 41 polling stations in Churachandpur district left for their respective polling stations today.

Officials for the remaining polling stations of Churachandpur district would leave tomorrow.

Even as 9 persons abducted in connection with the mass rally held in Chandel district Hqs a few days back were set free yesterday night, stringent security cover was given to the polling officials who left Chandel district Hqs for their respective polling stations today.

Taking serious note of the cases of abduction of candidates, wranglings among poll workers and other violent activities compounded with the apprehension for more violence in the run up to the elections, it is expected that about 140 companies of security forces would be deployed in the final phase of polling.

According to an official source, 10 companies would be deployed in Jiribam A/C, 40 companies of CRPF and IRB in Tamenglong district, 60 companies in Churachandpur and 35 others in Chandel district.

In addition to these 140 companies of security forces, army personnel would be pressed into patrolling duty in sensitive areas.

For the two Assembly constituencies in Chandel district, three in Tamenglong, six in Churachandpur and one in Jiribam sub-division, altogether 76 candidates have thrown their hats into the election ring.

Of all the polling stations which go to polls on February 23, 206 have been categorised as hypersensitive while 196 others have been termed sensitive.

Meanwhile State Chief Electoral Officer RR Rashmi, speaking to The Sangai Express, informed that there would be no alteration in the security arrangement planned earlier because of NSCN (K)'s prohibition on candidates against contesting elections in Tamenglong A/C.While the Assam Rifles has been asked to patrol sensitive areas, the State Police have been asked to look after other possible security loopholes, he said.

For any eventuality, helicopters would be put on stand-by.

On the day of election, a helicopter each would be stationed in all the district Hqs, Rashmi said.

Helicopters would ferry EVMs and presiding officers of 120 polling stations.

Abductions, intimidations and threats have been common in the last few days.