Repolling was not held in 16 of the 39 booths in Assam’s Karimganj district on Tuesday, allegedly because of “mismanagement” by the district administration. It will be held on Wednesday along with counting for the state’s two-phase panchayat election.
Repolling was ordered in 55 booths, spread over Karimganj (39), Cachar (13), Hailakandi (2) and Nalbari (1) districts, on Tuesday following reports of booth capturing and attack on polling officials, among others, in the panchayat poll phase two on Sunday.
Trouble started in the 16 booths on Tuesday when polling officials did not reach the places till 9am while people queued up from 6am. In a polling booth in Nilambazar in the district, people blocked the Assam-Tripura (NH-8) road and burnt tyres. Police and CRPF personnel had to resort to a lathicharge to vacate the road, injuring some people.
The Congress condemned the “mismanagement” by the district administration in conducting panchayat election in Karimganj and termed it a “conspiracy”.
Party workers laid siege to the deputy commissioner’s office for an hour and lifted it only after the repoll in the 16 booths on Wednesday was announced. Clashes between AIUDF and Congress workers were also reported.
Karimganj deputy commissioner Pradip Kumar Talukdar said repolling could not be held in 16 of the 39 booths because of delay in printing ballot papers and would now be held on Wednesday.
The turnout in the 23 booths where repolling was held was above 55 per cent till 6pm. The figure will go up as voting continued late in some booths because of delay in arrival of ballot papers.
Repolling was peaceful in the other districts. The voting percentage was above 65 in Cachar and 62 in Hailakandi.
The Hailakandi district administration had clamped Section 144 CrPC with immediate effect on Monday, apprehending breach of peace and tranquillity during repolling on Tuesday and counting of votes on Wednesday. The order issued by district magistrate Adil Khan will remain in force till Saturday. It prohibits assembly of five or more persons or any activity that may disturb public peace and tranquillity. It also bans carrying of arms, use of fire crackers, holding of rallies or dharna in any public place, inflammatory speeches and use of loudspeaker. The prohibitory orders, however, exempt police and security personnel from carrying weapons and holding of government meetings and other official programmes.
The Hailakandi administration has completed all arrangements for counting of votes at Government VMHS School in Hailakandi town from 8am. CCTVs have been installed in all the 11 counting halls, one each for the 11 zila parishads.
A control room has been set up for smooth conduct of the counting process.
Altogether 3,220 candidates are in the fray in Hailakandi — 80 for election of 11 zila parishad members (ZPM), 345 for election of 62 gaon panchayat presidents (GPP), 335 for election of 62 anchalik panchayat members (APM) and 2,460 for election of 620 gaon panchayat members (GPM). Altogether 31 GPMs have been elected unopposed.
Hailakandi additional deputy commissioner Amalendu Roy, who is in charge of the model code of conduct and expenditure monitoring cell for panchayat poll in the district, had on Tuesday asked all candidates to submit in a prescribed format an account of their election expenditure with vouchers within 60 days from the date of declaration of results to the cell which will function up till February 11, 2019.