CEC assures water tight security for polls
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 04: With representatives of National and regional political parties unanimous in their observation/suggestion to enhance security arrangement for the 9th State Assembly elections slated for February during their interaction with officials of Election Commission of India yesterday, the Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami today announced comprehensive deployment of security personnel at all the polling stations.

Acting in sync with the observation of the political leaders of the State, the CEC declared that at least one section of para-military forces would be deployed in all the 2053 enlisted polling stations for the three phase elections to elect 60 members of the State Legislative assembly.

The strength of a section in the context of para-military organisation is said to be composed of atleast 10 personnel.

"We have decided that every polling station will be provided with a minimum security of one section of central para military forces," N Gopalswami said while briefing reporters on the poll arrangement at the premises of 1st BN Manipur Rifles here today.

Taking note of security concern during the election, the CEC accepted that "poll tasks to be carried out in Manipur are very difficult" and elaborated that "this time there would be no personnel with lathis manning the polling stations".

Additional armed forces would also be deployed according to the sensitivity of the polling stations, he said.

Though he did not convey the total strength of security personnel to be deployed for the said poll in the state, the CEC said the required number of forces would be deployed to ensure the democratic exercise are held in a free and fair atmosphere with utmost priority on curbing unwanted consequences.

"this time the security strength would be two and a half time stronger than the previous polls," Gopalaswami asserted while informing that the required number of security forces would be arriving in phases starting from January 28.Endorsing another point raised by representatives of political parties, he said there would be no discrimination in the provision of security to candidates with number of security personnel to be figured out after assessing the threat perception of each candidate.

With the final electoral rolls made public yesterday the total number of electorates approved for exercising their franchise rights stands at 16,87,543 including 8.72 lakhs female voters and 8.15 male electorates.

In the final list names of 17,000 persons have been deleted as they were found invalid, the CEC informed.

Taking into account opinions for change in the second phase poll date which coincides with the Lui-Ngai-Ni festival (February 15) of the Naga community, Gopalaswami iterated that in all probability the ECI would prepone the schedule to February 14. he also added that the new date 'would be officially announced very soon'.

Belittling the threat perception from Jiribam public who are agitating on the demand for upgrading the sub-division to a full-fledged revenue district, the CEC assured that adequate security would be provided to ensure everyone, who wants to exercise their democratic rights without any inhibition.

To oversee the whole poll process 30 observers would be deputed by the commission and "they would be arriving here in different dates according to poll schedules," added the CEC.

Five helicopters would be utilized for ferrying poll materials to and from interior hills and far flung villages where road connectivity are unsatisfactory.

To ensure free and fair polling extensive video and digital camera coverage would be made during campaign and polls, he said while enumerating that 3000 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have already been requisitioned for the polls.

Having noticed that most telephones in interior areas are defunct posing another hurdle in carrying out poll related works, the CEC drew the attention of the state's Chief Secretary to take appropriate measures for establishing telephone connectivity in the state ahead of the polls.

he also said that to check instances of favouritism, if any, during the polling process identity of designated polling officials would be kept under wrap till the time of deployment in the respective posting areas.

The ECI team that held rounds of meetings with the Chief Secretary, DGP, Commissioners, Secretaries, DCs and SPs separately, and political parties separately during its two day visit left Imphal this afternoon.

To oversee the security arrangements for the polls Union home secretary VK Duggal also made a two day visit to the state.