ECI orders re-poll in 11 polling stations, to be held on April 22
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, April 20 2024: Taking cognisance of the widespread poll-related violence, Election Commission of India (ECI) has declared that the poll taken on Friday in respect of 11 polling stations under 1-Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency would be void and appointed April 22, Monday as the date for taking fresh poll from 7 am to 5 pm.

As the first phase of the 18th Lok Sabha election conducted in the state on Friday was marred by acts of violence, intimidation, and disruption; INDIA Bloc, Congress party had filed complaints demanding re-poll in 47 polling stations - 36 in Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency, and 11 in Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency.

The polling stations identified for re-polling are 3/11 Moirangkampu Sajeb Upper Primary School, 3/21 S Ibobi Primary School (East Wing), Khurai Thangjam Leikai in Khurai assembly constituency; 4/43 Bamon Kampu Upper Primary School (North A), 4/44 Pioneer Academy, Bamon Kampu (North-B), 4/45 Irilbung High School (North Wing), Bamon Kampu (South West), 4/46 Irilbung High School (South Wing), Bamon Kampu (South East) in Kshetrigao assembly constituency; 5/31 National Children's School, Khongman Zone (V)-A in Thongju AC; 10/1 Iroisemba Upper Primary School (Eastern Wing), 10/6 Iroisemba UPS (Western Wing), & 10/7 Iroisemba UPS (Middle Wing) in Uripok AC; and 18/22 Khaidem Primary School (Southern Wing), Khaidem Makha in Konthoujam AC.

Earlier Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Manipur recommended re-poll in six polling stations in a letter submitted to the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The recommendation comes in response to a slew of incidents, including mob violence, destruction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), gun-wielding men intimidating voters & inner agents of opposition party, opening fire at polling stations, and proxy voting, reported across various polling stations.

The recommended polling stations for re-polling and their respective reasons cited are 3/11 Moirangkampu Sajeb Upper Primary School on account of mob violence; 5/31 Khongman Zone (V)-A on account of riots; 10/1 Iroisemba Upper Primary School (Eastern Wing) on account of mob violence resulting in the destruction of EVMs; 10/6 Iroisemba UPS (Western Wing) on account of mob destruction of EVM, Control Unit (CU), Ballot Unit (BU) & WPAT; 10/7 Iroisemba UPS (Middle Wing) on account of mob destruction of EVM, CU, BU & WPAT; and 18/22 Khaidem Makha on account of proxy votes (around 61 votes) by some persons by force resulting in mob violence.

Widespread irregularities, including instances of armed men attempting to influence the voting process by forcibly casting proxy votes and intimidating election agents were reported on Friday.

In several incidents, armed groups disrupted the polling process, leading to the destruction of EVMs and instances of physical assault.

Earlier on Friday, political parties aligned with the INDIA Bloc, extending support to INC candidates Prof Angomcha Bimol Akoijam and Alfred Kanngam Arthur, petitioned the ECI and relevant authorities for re-polling in 36 polling stations within the Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency and 11 stations in the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency.

Speaking on behalf of INDIA Bloc at the Congress Bhawan, Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president K Meghachandra expressed dismay over the unprecedented scale of violence witnessed during the election.

He cited incidents of armed individuals intimidating Congress agents prior to the polling day and alleged misconduct by BJP workers at several polling stations.

Meghachandra criticised the BJP-led government, accusing it of undermining democracy in Manipur.

He highlighted instances of proxy voting and a particularly egregious incident where an elderly person was injured due to indiscriminate firing at a polling station in the Khurai assembly constituency.

The 36 polling stations in the Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency proposed for re-polling are under Heingang, Khurai, Kshetrigao, Thongju, Keirao, Andro, Yaiskul, Sekmai, Konthoujam, Oinam, and Moirang assembly constituencies.

Similarly, the 11 polling stations under the Outer Manipur parliamentary constituency are located in Sugnu assembly constituency.

Mention may be made here that armed individuals engaged in acts of violence and attempted to manipulate the voting process through proxy voting and destruction of essential election equipment in various polling stations across the state on Friday.

At the Pioneer Academy polling station in Bamon Kampu under Keirao assembly constituency, armed men allegedly indulged in large-scale proxy voting after disabling the CCTV camera.

Outraged locals intervened, resulting in the destruction of the EVM machine.

Similarly, in Thongju assembly constituency, armed individuals stormed the National Children School polling station, expelled inner agents of opposition parties, and proceeded to conduct proxy voting after removing the surveillance cameras.

Local residents intervened and damaged the EVM, resulting in a chaotic situation.

The disruption continued as the same group of armed individuals moved to the Khongman Zone-5 community hall polling station, where they cast proxy votes, leading to suspension of the polling process.

Efforts by BJP MLA Th Biswajit to restore order were met with resistance, further escalating tensions, but fresh polling took place at the polling station till late night.

Instances of violence extended beyond polling stations, with reports of armed men attempting to coerce village volunteers into voting and vandalising polling booths.

Former BJYM president Manoharmayum Barish Sharma allegedly targeted the polling booth of an INC candidate, further exacerbating the volatile situation.

In the Uripok assembly constituency, armed men threatened polling agents, inciting locals to destroy EVMs at multiple polling stations, halting the voting process.

Despite efforts by law enforcement to contain the situation, violence persisted.

The magnitude of the chaos prompted swift action from security forces, who intervened to ensure the safety of voters and election personnel.

However, the incidents have cast a shadow over the electoral process, raising concerns about its fairness and integrity.

At Kyamgei Heibong Makhong High School polling station in Kyamgei Awang Leikai under Keirao assembly constituency, an INC agent faced a harrowing assault, with shots fired towards his residence by unidentified armed individuals.

Additionally, reports said that a female family member was subjected to assault.

In another disturbing incident, a man was targeted by unidentified armed assailants at polling station number 3/14 at Moirang Kampu Primary School in Imphal East district.

The victim sustained a gunshot wound in his abdomen and is currently undergoing treatment at Raj Medicity.

The assailants, who came in a Fortuner XUV, unleashed a volley of indiscriminate gunfire before fleeing the scene.

Prompt action by law enforcement author -ities ensued, with a team from the Imphal East district police swiftly pursuing the suspects' vehicle.

Near Sajiwa jail, a speeding Maruti Ciaz car was intercepted by a special commando team, leading to apprehension of three individuals who are now in custody for further investigation.

Furthermore, incidents of attempted interference in the electoral process were reported at polling station number 4/13 in Top Naoriya North (A), where unidentified armed individuals sought to seize control and disrupt the voting process.

Their attempts to forcibly cast votes resulted in the vandalisation of an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), causing disruption and chaos among voters.

Despite the setback, authorities managed to restore order, allowing voting to resume after the damaged EVM was replaced.

Additionally, in Thamnapokpi under Moirang assembly constituency, the air reverberated with the sound of gunfire as armed men fired several rounds near a polling booth, causing panic among voters and necessitating deployment of additional security personnel to contain the escalating situation.

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