IMPHAL/NEW DELHI: An estimated 82 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise on Saturday in the Manipur assembly elections, which were marred by militant violence that claimed seven lives, including that of an ultra.
The Chief Electoral Officer, Mr P C Lawmkunga said as per preliminary official reports, 82 per cent of the 17.50 lakh electorate cast their votes even as details from the state’s nine districts were awaited.
Deputy Election Commissioner, Mr Alok Shukla said in New Delhi that a person, posing as a voter, entered a polling station in an interior area in Sugnu assembly constituency in Chandel district at around 12:30 pm and started firing indiscriminately, killing a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) man, three polling persons and a voter on the spot.
An injured voter, who was taken to Imphal in a helicopter, succumbed to bullet injuries. The shooter, who is yet to be identified, was also gunned down by CRPF personnel posted at the polling booth.
Bombs suspected to have been planted by militants were seized and defused before the start of polling in Khurai Chingangbam area, Sawombung High School, Khomidok in Imphal East district and Naoremthong High School area in Imphal West district, official sources said.
There were also reports from six other places in the state where mobs damaged Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and in another incident miscreants snatched an EVM, said Mr Shukla.
Two CRPF personnel on poll duty were killed in an ambush by militants in Ukhrul district on Friday, the sources said. Mr Alok Shukla said the final poll percentage would be available only after receiving details from across the state. As polling continued till late due to long queues inside polling booths, election officials hoped the turnout would be higher.
The state had witnessed a polling percentage of 84.7 per cent in the 2007 general assembly elections while it was lower at 67.8 per cent during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
Saturday’s voting saw the fates of the Chief Minister, Mr O Ibobi Singh (Thoubal), Forest Minister and Congress leader, Mr Th Debendra (Jiribam), Congress nominee and Speaker, Mr I Hemochandra Singh (Shingjamei), former chief minister and NCP chief, Mr Radhabinod Koijam (Thangmeiband) and Manipur People’s Party (MPP) leader and former deputy chief minister, Mr L Chandramani Singh (Patsoi) sealed in EVMs.
A total of 279 candidates, including 15 women were in the fray for the 60-member Manipur assembly. The EC had set up 2,365 polling stations and appointed 19 general observers, nine police observers and 13 expenditure observers, besides 64 assistant expenditure observers and 135 micro observers for smooth and fair polls in the state. While two helicopters were also pressed into service and video cameras used in these polls, live web casting of polling was done in 60 polling stations.