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Clash over repoll demand

- Allegations of Cong hand in Arunachal ‘malpractice’

Itanagar, May 9: Clashes broke out outside Nirvachan Bhawan here today over a demand for repoll in four booths of Kurung Kumey district in Arunachal Pradesh.

Itanagar deputy commissioner Mige Kanki invoked Section 144 of the CrPC, prohibiting assembly of more than five persons within a 200-metre radius of Nirvachan Bhawan for a month.

Eyewitnesses said a group of people gathered outside Nirvachan Bhavan at 9am. Around noon, a free-for-all fist-fight broke out while police and security personnel stood by. The fighting subsided only after the officer in-charge of Itanagar police station, T. Bage, ordered the police and CRPF to disperse the crowd.

Bage said the two groups had gathered to learn the outcome of a hearing, scheduled to be held today, in front of chief electoral officer C.B. Kumar’s office regarding a complaint filed earlier.

The Tali Pipsorang People’s Forum had earlier filed a complaint with the state chief electoral officer and the Election Commission, claiming electoral malpractice during the April 9 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state. It sought repolling at Richik, Ruhi, Giba and Ha polling stations of Tali Assembly constituency. Tali is the only Assembly constituency without proper road connectivity.

The forum alleged malpractices by the Congress and election officials and setting up of polling stations at non-designated venues in Tali constituency by election officials. In a letter to the Election Commission, it alleged that election officials were in a connivance with Congress candidate Markio Tado.

The forum had also filed a complaint with the state chief electoral officer on April 29, alleging that Tado and Congress workers were involved in booth capturing and snatching of EVMs during the April 9 polls. It claimed that Congress workers had cast all 1,419 votes in Ruhi while “genuine voters were prevented from entering”. It alleged “laxity” of election officials in “not taking up the matter seriously despite a complaint lodged by the Nationalist Congress Party”.

While Kumar refused to answer any questions, deputy chief electoral officer D.J. Bhattacharjee said statements were being taken from election observers of the district.

A release issued by the state election commission later stated that a demand for repolling was also received for Chulla polling station in Koloriang Assembly constituency and that an inquiry was on.

“The reports will be submitted by the inquiry officer to the Election Commission for further action,” the statement read.

Reacting to the allegations levelled against the party and its candidate, Arunachal PCC general secretary T.C. Tok said the allegations need to be proven.

“Officials have been deputed from New Delhi. The ultimate authority on all election matters lies with the Election Commission,” Tok said.

Repolling was held at eight stations in Tali, which falls under the Arunachal West parliamentary constituency, on April 19.

The forum claimed that although repolling was held in Richik and Giba, it “was not conducted according to democratic process”.

The poll results are scheduled to be declared on May 16.


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