The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ibobi pep talk amid rebel mayhem

Imphal, April 25: Militants attempted to blow up two bridges and police gunned down three members of a banned organisation as Manipur continued to reel under the impact of violence on the eve of the second phase of elections in the state.

Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, however, put up a brave front at a news conference here and urged the voters to come out in droves. He said anybody trying to prevent the electorate from casting votes would be booked as “anti-nationals in accordance with the law of the land”.

The Ibobi Singh cabinet reviewed security arrangements for polling in Inner Manipur constituency earlier in the day.

Three militants were killed on the spot and an injured militant was captured during an encounter with the police at Top Chingtha, under Yairipok police station in Imphal East, where at least two banned groups prevented electioneering by the BJP and the ruling Congress.

The police found two AK-47 rifles and a bomb on the slain militants, who have not been identified.

Another group of militants tried to blow up two bridges, one in Imphal East and another at Thanga in Bishenpur district. The bridges, however, did not suffer any damage in the blasts. A similar explosion had occurred at Bijoygovinda, 2 km from here, around 11 pm yesterday. Nobody was killed or injured.

Police officials said militants were trying to intimidate voters into steering clear of the polling booths in Inner constituency, comprising Imphal East and West, Thoubal and Bishenpur districts.

The banned United National Liberation Front (UNLF) has called for a boycott of the elections. Two more banned groups, the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) and the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF), did not allow the BJP and the Congress, which heads the Secular Progressive Front government, to campaign.

Last night, KYKL gunmen shot dead former director general of police L. Jugeswar Singh, a relative of BJP candidate Thounaojam Chaoba Singh. Jugeswar Singh was campaigning for Chaoba Singh, who is fighting the poll to retain the Inner seat.

RPF militants also destroyed election material of the Congress yesterday. The poll material, including party flags, were taken away by the militants from the official quarter of Congress minister Brajabidhu Singh, who is holding the minor irrigation portfolio.

Appealing to the people to cast their votes tomorrow without any fear, the chief minister told the media after the Cabinet meeting that his government would “firmly deal with those trying to derail the democratic process”.

“Those preventing voters from exercising their democratic rights would be treated as anti-social and anti-national and punished accordingly. They will face serious consequences,” he warned.


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