The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Repoll in three legs in Manipur, clashes on

Imphal, April 21: The Election Commission ordered a three-phase repoll, beginning tomorrow, in 117 centres of Outer Manipur constituency amid reports of more violence by militants opposed to the electoral process in this troubled state.

Three Assam Rifles and two India Reserve Battalion personnel were wounded in an encounter with militants in Chandel district this afternoon. The incident occurred at Challong Lamkhai, about 30 km from Tengnoupal police station.

The militants ambushed the convoy while it was returning to the district headquarters with election officials and materials. The security personnel retaliated, forcing the assailants to retreat.

Last night, a group of militants ambushed a Manipur Rifles team escorting poll personnel, killing the driver and injuring another at Khoiripok in Ukhrul district. Two personnel were reported missing after the incident. The slain driver was not a government employee.

Militants had shot dead four security personnel and torched four vehicles in separate incidents before polling began.

Taking cognisance of the returning officer’s report on snatching of electronic voting machines and other incidents during polling in Outer Manipur constituency, the Election Commission announced a repoll in the troubled Assembly segments and asked the administration to arrange for extra security cover.

Of the 117 stations where polling will be conducted again, 77 are spread across Tamenglong and Churachandpur districts. Election personnel did not reach these centres on time for polling yesterday.

The election control room said a repoll was ordered in 40 stations in Chandel, Thoubal, Senapati, Churachandpur, Tamenglong and Jiribam subdivision of Imphal East district because electronic voting machines were either snatched or damaged in these places.

Polling will be held afresh in 12 of these centres tomorrow, while 20 more would go to the polls again on Saturday. The remaining stations will witness voting for the second time on April 30.

The Election Commission intimated its approval of the recommendation for repoll this evening.

An official in the election control room here blamed lack of co-ordination between security agencies and the district administration for the disruption of polling. “The level of security was inadequate given the fact that the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) had called a general strike and asked the electorate to boycott the poll,” he said.

The turnout of voters was low in seven Assembly segments of Thoubal district primarily because of the UNLF strike.

Shops were closed and roads deserted throughout the day. The overall turnout in Thoubal was 33.58 per cent.

The election office has notified 11 centres for counting of votes on May 13. Inner Manipur constituency will go to the polls on Monday.

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