India orders repolling at 11 booths in two districts of strife-torn Manipur

Mob violence, instances of booth capturing and destruction of electronic voting machines reported in the state

The Election Commission of India [ECI] has ordered repolling at 11 polling booths in the northeastern state of Manipur, which has been riven by ethnic violence since last year.

The rerun of elections was ordered after incidents of mob violence, booth capturing and the destruction of electronic voting machines were reported at various polling stations in the state.

Polling on the two parliamentary seats in Manipur took place on Friday as India kicked off the first phase of its elections, in which nearly 1 billion people are expected to take part.

The elections began on 19 April.

The fresh voting will take place on Monday at 11 polling booths in two districts of Manipur, according to an order issued by the state’s chief electoral officer.

“The ECI has directed that the poll taken on 19th April 2024, in respect of 11 polling stations of Inner Manipur Constituency to be void, and appointed 22nd April 2024, for taking fresh poll at the said stations,” the order read.

The main opposition party, Congress, had demanded a rerun at 47 Manipur polling stations after it alleged that booths had been captured and voting had been rigged.

The state saw scattered incidents of violence on Friday as millions voted in the first phase of elections across the country. Voters in Manipur turned out in large numbers despite the threat of clashes in the region.

There was 72.17 per cent voter turnout in the state.

The staging of elections in the state presented a major security challenge to the authorities, as it remains under the grip of fierce ethnic clashes and bloodshed since last year.

More than 220 people have died and more than 60,000 people have been displaced as members of the majority Meitei and minority Kuki communities have clashed over sharing economic benefits and quotas given to the tribes. The region remains divided between a valley controlled by Meiteis and Kuki-dominated hills, separated by a stretch of no man’s land monitored by federal paramilitary forces.

A resident, Khoisnam Sayamaima, received a bullet injury after army personnel allegedly opened fire at a polling station in Imphal East, reported The Indian Express. Subsequently, the polling station was vandalised and documents were set ablaze.

Manipur’s chief electoral officer, Pradeep Kumar Jha, said a voting machine was damaged in one of the polling booths and one of the polling stations was vandalised.

According to election officials, around eight electronic voting machines were damaged in the districts of Imphal East and Imphal West.

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