Imphal, April 17: Anger and consternation in the designated camps of seven militant groups having suspension of operations agreement with the Centre and the state government over “denial of rights to cast votes” as well as poll boycott in four polling booths marked today’s otherwise trouble-free polling in Inner Manipur constituency.
Chief electoral officer O. Nabakishore Singh estimated the poll percentage was 75 and added that the percentage might increase.
Though Nabakishore Singh had announced on Tuesday that 584 cadres of seven militant groups staying in seven designated camps in the state would be allowed to cast votes in their respective polling stations, no such arrangement was made today.
“We have not been told anything about casting our votes though the CEO announced that we would be allowed to do so. This has irked our cadres,” Puyam Ruhini, home secretary of the United Revolutionary Front (URF), said.
“We returned to the mainstream. Being Indian citizens, we should be allowed to exercise our right to franchise. This attitude of the government may have far-reaching consequences,” Ruhini added.
The URF’s 147 cadres are staying in a designated camp inside an army post, which is located not very far from the Leimakhong army headquarters in Sadar Hills of Senapati district.
The election authorities did not make any arrangement for cadres in the other six designated camps either. The other six groups are the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (Military Defence Force), Kangleipak Communist Party (Lamphel), United Peoples Party of Kangleipak, United Tribal Liberation Army, Kangleipak Communist Party (Nongdrenkhomba) and the Kangleipak Communist Party Military Council (Lallumba).
Asked about the failure of the election authorities to make polling arrangements for cadres in the camps, Nabakishore Singh did not give a direct reply. “We have not received any report on whether the cadres were denied voting rights,” he said.
The CEO had, however, allowed 280 cadres of more than 20 Kuki militant groups having suspension of operations agreement with the government to cast their votes during polling for Outer Manipur constituency on April 9. The cadres were allowed to cast votes through postal ballots in their respective camps.
More than 2,000 voters of four polling stations at Leimram in Bishnupur district under Oinam Assembly constituency boycotted the polls in protest against the failure of the state police to punish a culprit of the area who had assaulted a woman of the locality last month.
Nabakishore Singh said no repoll would be held in these booths as some polling personnel, who happened to be on the voter lists of these polling stations, had cast their votes.
Voters of Lambal primary school polling station in Imphal West also initially refused to cast their votes in protest against the picking up of a man from the locality by Assam Rifles personnel last night.
The Assam Rifles handed over the youth to the police today, branding him a militant. The voters finally agreed to vote around 1pm. The CEO said barring these two incidents, polling was peaceful.