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Manipur EC seeks forces

Imphal, Jan. 29: State Election Commission, Manipur has sought 150 companies of central paramilitary forces to ensure free and fair voting during the Lok Sabha elections in the state.

O. Nabakishore Singh, the state’s chief electoral officer, said this paramilitary strength was in addition to the paramilitary forces already deployed in Manipur for maintaining law and order.

“We requested the commission to provide additional 150 companies of central paramilitary forces for a one-phase polling. We will require 75 additional companies if polling is in two phases,” the officer said.

Manipur has two Lok Sabha seats — Outer Manipur and Inner Manipur constituencies. The total number of electorate is 17,47,889 including 8,86,473 women. The total number of polling stations is 2,662.

Nabakishore Singh said state forces — police, Manipur Rifles, India Reserve Battalion and village defence forces — would also be used during the polls.

“We do not foresee any trouble if the required strength is provided by the Election Commission,” the official said.

The commission is contemplating women officials as polling personnel, if manpower is not enough.

A two-day joint conference of election officials, district deputy commissioners and superintendents of police began at the state election office here today to discuss issues relating to security deployment and vulnerability of the police stations.

The chief electoral officer asked all deputy commissioners to submit district election plans in his office by Friday.

The deputy commissioners have also been directed to identify interior areas of the nine hill districts that are not covered by mobile phone networks so as to devise a mechanism to improve the communication system during the polling.

“In the past, we faced problems in gathering information whether polling was held or not or any trouble cropped up because of lack of communication system. If such areas could be identified, we will request the Election Commission to provide satellite phones or improve the cell phone network to lessen the problem,” Singh said.

Stating that the state election commission was fully prepared for the polls, Singh said his office and state information and public relations department had started scanning reports in publications to detect paid news. This was done following strict instructions from the Election Commission, he said.

“We will present Manipur’s preparedness during the chief electoral officers’ meeting in New Delhi on February 10. The meeting will discuss problems including the law and order situation,” he said.

Though the final electoral roll of the state was published on January 6, the process of correction is still in progress. “We want 100 per cent accuracy in the electoral roll,” Singh said.