Manipur recorded over 80 percent turnout in the assembly election
Saturday but the figure could go up as voting was still on in some
remote parts of the state, while at least seven people, including
a paramilitary trooper and a suspected Naga militant, were killed
in poll-related violence.
"We are expecting the final poll percentage to be around 86
percent. It will take time as polling is continuing in some remote
polling booths across the state (as at 9.30 p.m.). In some polling
stations, polling has been completed but we are yet to receive a
confirmed report from the returning officers (ROs)," chief
electoral officer P.C. Lawmkunga told IANS.
"However, looking at the trends, we are expecting that the final
polling percentage will be around 86 percent," he said adding that
they would be able to calculate the exact percentage of polling
only Sunday morning.
A major tragedy was averted in Sagolband constituency after police
and security forces recovered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
It was later defused.
The state election office said that although the polling was
officially to end at 3 p.m., the polling officers would wait till
those already in queues at the booths have cast their votes.
According to officials, voting was taking more time as every voter
was being photographed after casting their vote, to ensure
transparency and stop proxy voting. This was being done for the
first time in India, they said.
Live webcasting was also done at 60 polling booths in the Imphal
valley, an official said and added that the poll panel can monitor
the whole process of voting through it. This has been done for the
first time in Manipur.
Violence was reported in Chandel district as a group of armed
militants tried to capture a polling booth in remote Chakpi Karong
village but were thwarted by security personnel. A Central Reserve
Police Force (CRPF) trooper was killed and six others were
seriously injured in the ensuing gun battle.
The injured, who included a suspected Naga militant, a woman
voter, three other polling officials and a young girl, succumbed
on way to the hospital.
Polling started at 7 a.m. and continued peacefully till noon with
people turning out in huge numbers to elect a 60-member assembly
despite a string of bomb blasts during the past one week.
In Tipaimukh constituency also, a minor incident of violence was
recorded when some irate electors damaged an EVM at a polling
booth. This caused security personnel to open fire but no one was
Voting took place amid tight security at 2,357 polling booths, of
which 875 were termed hyper-sensitive.
Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and his legislator wife, Landhoni
Devi cast their vote around 7.30 a.m. at a polling booth in
Thoubal Aphokpam Lower Primary School in Khangabok constituency.
Landhoni Devi is the sitting legislator from Khangabok.
"I am expecting that the Congress party would secure around 45
seats. But 35 is the minimum number we are winning," the two-time
chief minister told IANS after casting his vote.
"People will come out despite the militants' threat as it is a
democratic exercise that comes after every five years and no one
wants to miss it," he said.
In addition to the state's police forces, the state election
authority had deployed 350 companies of central paramilitary
forces for smooth conduct of the election.
A day ahead of the polls, suspected militants triggered a blast at
Thangmeiban Iikamdewan Leiki area in Imphal West district. One
person received minor injuries in the bombing.
On Thursday, a blast took place just 2 km from Kangla Fort, where
the state's official Republic Day function was celebrated. No one
was injured. Militants exploded two powerful bombs in Kakwa area
in Imphal West district Wednesday night but there was no casualty.
On Jan 22, militants triggered a powerful explosion outside the
residence of I. Hemochandra Singh, the speaker of the outgoing
assembly and a Congress party candidate in the state. One person
was killed in the blast.