Upgraded EVMs, foolproof security lined up for polls
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 23: While candidates in fray for the 9th Assembly elections have literally rolled up their sleeves to woo the electorate, relevant official processes for the first phase polling have kicked off.

Apart from sources informing that newly developed Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have arrived at Imphal, the State Chief electoral Officer (CEO) RR Rashmi today announced slight changes in the security arrangement for the said elections.

briefing media persons on the run-up to the ensuing elections at DIPR office today, Rashmi stated that with the exception of security personnel 'on duty' no other armed personnel either in uniform or in civvies would be allowed to enter polling stations and its periphery within a radius of 100 metres.

the category of personnel barred from entry to such locations also covers security-escorts of candidates concerned, he said.

According to the CEO, under extraordinary cases, security personnel may enter the restricted area provided an official permission is obtained/granted by the respective Presiding Officer while persons entitled SPG guards may enter the polling station and voting compartment with a handful of the detailed security personnel.

Another change in security aspect of the poll announced by Rashmi concerns stationing of a security personnel at the doorsteps of each polling station.

Asserting that the stationed security personnel would be entrusted to closely monitor the poll process to check electoral malpractices including connivance amongst the poll agents, the CEO said report of the same personnel to the RO concerned or through the OC would be enough evidence to order re-poll.

On the reported irregularities on insertion/deletion of some voters in Chandel district, the CEO stated that the matter has been finalised by the Election Commission.

Explaining, Rashmi said 1800 voters of Chandel area, who had shifted from their respective villages and settled near Chakpikarong as a consequence of ethnic strife, can still exercise their franchise right provided they are able to produce documents in support of their identities.

He also informed that his office has recommended relocation of certain polling station in parts of Chandel district due to displacement of villagers in the wake of recent sporadic skirmishes between security forces and militants, particularly in Khengjoi and nearby villages.

On deployment of recently arrived para-military force personnel, the CEO said that security personnel will fan out to their respective sites well ahead of polling dates.

Informing that one candidate withdrew candidature today, Rashmi listed 90 aspirants left to contest for the first phase polling while the total number of candidates who had filed for the second phase till today reached six.

It is reported that two candidates Dr Kh Loken of the Indian national Congress and independent candidate L Gyaneshore today appended their candidature for the Sagolband AC.

Meanwhile, report culled by the press indicate arrival of requisite electronic voting machines (EVMs) and putting up number of valid electorates in the official website of the Chief Electoral Officer.

According to informed sources, adequate arrangement have been made to enable voters find easy access on any information regarding the ensuing elections which will begin with the first phase polling on February 8 and conclude after two more phases within the same month.

Among other polling materials, 800 newly developed EVMs to be used for the first time in the first phase polling have been procured from the Bangalore manufacturing firm Bharat Electronics and are being kept in the custody of CEO office at Lamphelpat.

These EVMs are to be utilised in 714 polling stations spread across Senapati, Ukhrul and Thoubal districts and would replace about 3000 similar equipments already brought from Assam following an instruction from the Election Commission of India that product of the Bangalore firm would make its debut in the State poll.

Unique features of the upgraded and highly efficient EVMs include precision on data recording like entire duration of poll period, pin-pointing timing of individual voters casting their votes, detection of proxy votings and modern technology to ensure that voted figures remain unaltered/safe even after recovery from attempted destructive act like dumping in water bodies.

Another new development that would debut with the State assembly elections pertains to detailed information provided in the official website concerning locations of all the identified polling stations in the 60 constituencies along with map that could be scoured easily through the official website.

The three-phase polling will also witness another first with the introduction of video coverage of the polling processes for which 200 video cameras had already been put in place.

On the security context the ensuing democratic exercise would be held under the glare of 150 companies of Central para-military force personnel out of whom two sections each would be deployed in polling stations coming under the hyper-sensitive category.

It may be recalled that Manipur witnessed similar tight security scenario when by-election for the Konthoujam assembly constituency was held under an exclusive all-paramilitary-force personnel vigil.

mention may also be made that on advice of the Central authorities officials of the ceasefire Monitoring Cell has reportedly instructed armed organisations currently observing ceasefire to stay put in their respective designated camps for 15 days during the poll period.