The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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One last plea from Chakmas

Diyun/Kohima, May 4: The Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh made an impassioned plea to the All Arunachal Pradesh Students? Union to revoke its call for a boycott of the poll tomorrow amid a 48-hour bandh that paralysed life across the state.

As the Chakmas and Hajongs, long reviled as refugees who have overstayed their welcome, rejoiced at the prospect of voting for the first time, community leader Subimal Bikash Chakma said there was nothing to gain from opposing the inclusion of a small group in the electoral rolls.

?I fervently appeal to the students to withdraw their strike in the greater interest of the two communities,? the president of the citizenship committee said.

A source in the state home department said the bandh called by the student organisation was ?total?, but no untoward incident was reported from any part of the state.

AAPSU members distributed pamphlets appealing to the electorate to refrain from voting in protest against the inclusion of Chakmas and Hajongs in the voters? list.

Subimal Chakma admitted he did not expect the student leadership to withdraw its call for a boycott of polling, but said he would not stop trying to end the acrimony.

?We have been allowed to participate in the elections after a protracted legal struggle and intend to make the best use of the opportunity,? he said.

The administration has made special security arrangements for the 1,497 Chakmas and Hajongs who can vote tomorrow. Apart from a posse of police personnel, paramilitary forces have been deployed at polling stations in the areas inhabited by the two communities. The army is on standby.

Eight polling stations have been set up for the 1,164 registered Chakma and Hajong voters in the Bordumsa-Diyun Assembly segment. One polling station in the Chowkham segment will cater to 323 voters from the two communities.

The remaining 10 voters will make their polling debut at two stations in Miao.

Arunachal Pradesh has 1,756 polling stations spread over the two parliamentary constituencies. As many as 1,001 of these are not connected by road. There are 12 candidates in the race for the two seats.

Apart from Arunachal Pradesh, polling will be conducted tomorrow in Nagaland, which has one Lok Sabha seat and five contenders.

The run-up to the poll was uneventful until Congress leader and former chief minister S. C. Jamir claimed that the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) was meddling in the electoral process.

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