Manipur: Can tight security measures ensure a turnout and smooth polling?

This phase of polling covers 13 assembly segments, while the first phase on 19 April included 15 segments along with the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat

Polling parties are travelling 2-3 hours by boat and reaching their respective polling stations in Jiribam District of Manipur (photo: @ECISVEEP/X)
Polling parties are travelling 2-3 hours by boat and reaching their respective polling stations in Jiribam District of Manipur (photo: @ECISVEEP/X)

NH Digital

Voting commenced on Friday, 26 April, for the remaining portion of the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency amid tight security measures. This phase of polling covers 13 Assembly segments in the state. The first phase on 19 April covered 15 segments, including the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat.

A total of 4,84,949 voters, including 2,45,807 female electors, are eligible to cast votes across 848 polling stations in Manipur. Over 3,400 polling personnel have been deployed for this phase, with specific arrangements made for voters in relief camps due to the year-long ethnic violence the state has been dealing with.

But the Supreme Court on Monday, 15 April, refused to entertain a plea seeking voting facilities for around 18,000 people displaced internally due to the ethnic strife in Manipur. The plea was filed by Manipur resident Naulak Khamsuanthang who wanted ECI to make arrangements to enable internally displaced persons settled outside Manipur to enable them to cast their votes.

Nine special polling stations have been established in three districts for these internally displaced voters, as per the Economic Times and India Today.

Per the electoral rolls, 529 internally displaced voters will exercise their franchise at these special polling stations. Furthermore, around 87 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been deployed in addition to 4,000 state armed personnel to ensure security at the polling stations.

A special polling station has been set up for only one voter in the Tengnoupal district, as per India Today.

For internally displaced voters, four polling stations each have been set up in Ukhrul and Tengnoupal, and one in Jiribam districts. Polling began at 7 am and will continue till 4 pm.

In this phase, 202 polling stations will be entirely managed by all-women polling personnel, with one polling station exclusively managed by persons with disabilities (PwD) polling personnel. Additionally, 22 model polling stations have been established, the report added.

While the state’s ruling BJP is contesting the Inner Manipur seat, it has extended support to the Naga People’s Front (NPF) nominee Kachui Timothy Zimik, who replaced sitting MP Lorho S. Pfoze, in the Outer Manipur seat.

The Congress-led INDIA bloc has fielded Alfred Kanngam S. Arthur. Though two Independents—S. Kho John and Alyson Abonmai—are also contesting in the Lok Sabha seat, the main contest will be between Zimik and Arthur, both Nagas.

The Naga community has professed to remain neutral during ethnic conflict between the Meiteis of the Valley and the Kuki-Zomis of the hills.

During the first phase, incidents of vandalisation of polling booths, firing between rival groups, and clashes in more than six places occurred. At least 220 people were killed, 1,500 injured, and 60,000 displaced after ethnic violence broke out between the Meitei and Kuki-Zomi communities on 3 May last year, as per Economic Times.

In response to these incidents, security measures have been significantly heightened for Phase 2 of polling.

With inputs from IANS.

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