Manipur: Re-Election Conducted After Violence

Violence and disruptions mar Lok Sabha elections in Manipur, leading to re-polling under tight security measures.

As the Lok Sabha elections unfolded across India, Manipur found itself amidst turmoil during the initial phase of polling. On April 19th, 2024, incidents of mob violence, riots, and proxy voting rattled the state, disrupting the electoral process.

Reports emerged of disturbances at 11 polling booths, including those at Moirang Kampu Sajeb Upper Primary School and S. Ibobi Primary School (East Wing) in the Khurai assembly constituency, along with others scattered across Kshetrigao, Thongju, Uripok, and Konthoujam.

In one alarming incident, individuals resorted to opening fire at a polling booth, resulting in the injury of a voter. Clashes erupted at multiple booths, where armed individuals attempted to seize control, intimidate voters, and even damage Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Instances of proxy voting were also reported, with voters discovering that their ballots had been cast without their consent.

The chaos instilled fear and panic among voters, prompting many to flee without casting their votes to ensure their safety. Consequently, the Election Commission of India (ECI) invoked Sections 58(2) and 58A(2) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, declaring the polls at the affected booths null and void.

In response, Manipur's Chief Electoral Officer announced a fresh date for re-polling on April 22nd, 2024, from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. However, the main opposition Congress party accused the ruling BJP and Prime Minister Modi of orchestrating the disturbances to manipulate the electoral outcome. They demanded a rerun at all 47 polling stations in Manipur.

Security measures were significantly heightened for the re-polling, with two companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and inspector-led state forces deployed to safeguard the polling booths. Strict restrictions were imposed on foreigners within 100 meters of polling stations, while party booth camps were set up at a distance to maintain order

Despite the initial chaos, the re-polling concluded peacefully, with Manipur recording a commendable voter turnout of 81.64%. The state now awaits the election results, hoping for a fair and democratic outcome.