The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rain no bar for Manipur voters

Imphal, Feb. 14: The three valley districts of Manipur today registered a high voter turnout in the second phase of polling despite heavy rain and no violence, much to the relief of the security establishment.

The estimated turnout of 70 per cent at 3 pm is expected to be higher in the final analysis.

Contrary to apprehensions, there was no major incident of violence in any of the 29 constituencies, spread across Imphal East, Imphal West and Bishenpur districts.

The first phase of polling was held in 19 constituencies of Ukhrul, Senapati and Thoubal districts on February 8. The remaining 12 constituencies will vote in the final phase on February 23.

The prominent candidates whose political fate was sealed in the electronic voting machines today included three former chief ministers — R.K. Dorendro Singh in Yaiskul constituency, Wahengbam Nipamacha Singh in Wangoi constituency and Radhabinod Koijam in Thangmeiband constituency.

The police had anticipated widespread violence on polling day, given the developments since the hassle-free first phase. Clashes between workers of rival candidates were reported in parts of the valley throughout last night, raising the poll temperature. A Congress worker was found murdered in Keishamthong constituency of Imphal West. The victim was 32-year-old Leimapokpam Rabichandra.

Police sources said gunshots were heard last night at several places in the twin districts of Imphal.

However, polling in all 827 booths in the valley districts was peaceful. “We are happy to have seen this (polling) through without any violent incident. Despite the downpour, the voter turnout at 3 pm was 70 per cent. We expect the percentage to cross 80, which is more than expected,” chief electoral officer R.R. Rashmi said.

He said the deployment of additional units of central paramilitary forces prevented mischief-mongers from turning the second phase into a farce. “The persistent rain was a blessing in disguise, too,” he added.

Two sections of BSF and CRPF personnel manned all polling stations categorised as “hyper-sensitive”. One unit was deployed in the “sensitive” booths.

Security personnel also continued area-domination exercises in violence-prone areas throughout the day.

The pace of polling was slow to begin with because most elderly people were unfamiliar with the electronic voting machines. But it picked up as the day progressed.

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