| Police personnel patrol near a counting centre in Guwahati on Thursday. (PTI)
May 15: On the eve of counting of ballots to the five-week-long Lok Sabha polls, state governments in the Northeast spruced up security while the mood in party offices swung between buoyancy and despondency.
In Assam, Dispur announced a slew of steps to maintain peace following intelligence inputs about violence breaking out in the BTAD and elsewhere in the state after declaration of results tomorrow.
Assam chief secretary Jitesh Khosla chaired a meeting of the state-level crisis management group this morning to review security arrangements to deal with any situation that may arise after the verdict.
Director-general of police Khagen Sarma, senior officials from the home, revenue and other state government departments and representatives from the army and air force were present at the meeting which was followed by video conference with deputy commissioners and superintendents of police of vulnerable districts. Assam has 27 districts, of which four fall in the BTAD. Strict instructions were given to the districts to check rumours and trouble-mongers.
More than 100 companies of central paramilitary forces and state armed police have been deployed to deal with any eventuality in the BTAD.
Khosla appealed to all sections to stay calm and confirm the veracity of any information from the control rooms set up by the government and police.
Security forces recovered an improvised explosive device, weighing 2.5kg, from Jadumani village under Fakiragram police station in Kokrajhar district in the wee hours today and arrested two persons, including the vice-president of Fakiragram unit of AKRSU, Jayanta Roy, and one Kripa Roy. They are said to have links with the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation, which tried to sneak in the bomb.
Indefinite curfew was imposed in Kokrajhar from 5pm today and is likely to continue for at least three or four days. But late in the evening, the district administration announced that it would relax the curfew between 5am and 6pm tomorrow. Night curfew continues in Baksa and Chirang districts.
The curfew was clamped in the BTAD districts following the carnage in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts on May 1 and 2, which left at least 46 people dead. The Baksa administration has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC and has ordered markets and party offices to remain closed tomorrow.
Former Rajya Sabha MP Urkhao Gwra Brahma, the consensus Independent candidate of All Bodo Students Union (Absu) and its allied organisations from Kokrajhar seat, expressed displeasure over the imposition of curfew, accusing the administration of creating a war-like situation.
“There should be adequate security instead of imposing curfew during the day,” he said.
The steps taken by Dispur to foil trouble include clamping of prohibitory orders and banning of victory processions in Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang, Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Nalbari, Bongaigaon, Kamrup, Udalguri and Darrang districts. All emergency services, including fire, civil defence, village defence parties and homeguards will be kept ready. Operations for recovery of illegal arms will be intensified and strong action will be taken against rumourmongers. The army will be kept on the standby. Control rooms have been set up by the State Disaster Management Authority (0361-2237219) and the special branch of Assam police (0361-2380620) for verification of any information.
In Manipur, it was celebration time for state unit of the BJP with exit polls pointing to NDA victory in Delhi. Though the exit polls said the ruling Congress would retain both the seats in the state, it failed to dampen the BJP’s spirit. The BJP leaders planned to go to Delhi immediately after the results. The mood in the Congress camp was subdued, The few Congress leaders who turned up at the party office spent the day discussing the likely outcome of the polls. “You can’t say the outcome will go the way of the exit polls,” PCC president Gaikhangam said while expressing confidence that the party would retain both the seats in teh state.
In Meghalaya, all the frontrunners were upbeat about their prospects. From the Congress to the BJP, and National People’s Party to United Democratic Party, the mood was buoyant with everyone confident of being sent to the Lok Sabha.
In Tripura, a three-tier security measure has been put in place to prevent any untoward incident. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been clamped around all the 12 counting centres in West and East Tripura constituencies. The ruling CPM seemed firmly poised for a decisive victory in both the seats, which it has not lost since 1996.
In Nagaland, with the completion of the election process following repoll in five booths of Wokha district today, elaborate security has been put in place for the counting. Returning officer for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state, Temjen Toy, said all security arrangements have been put in place.