Incidents of violence at several constituencies across six election districts marred the second phase of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Elections 2022 on March 5 and claimed two lives despite Election Commission’s security measures in all polling stations of the 22 Assembly Constituencies (AC).
In Senapati district, one person was reportedly killed and another injured by security forces deployed for election duty at the polling station at Ngamju village in the Karong constituency. Official sources said the two were trying to run away with an EVM.
In a letter written to the returning officer of Karong AC by Ngaoni R James, the election agent to the BJP candidate, due to a gunshot, K Longvao, son of T Kah lost his life, whereas V Saope, son of S Vane was severely injured and battling for his life, he stated.
According to the statement, the civilians were shot without giving proper reason or warning by the security forces deployed at the polling station in the ongoing second phase of polls.
In another incident, armed miscreants shot a BJP worker early morning on March 5 at Wangjing Wangkhei situated in Wangjing-Tentha AC. The victim has been identified as one Leimapokpam Amuba, 25, son of L. Binoy of Wangjing Hodamba Maning Leikai. Amuba sustained three bullets on his belly. He was brought to Raj Medicity, Imphal, but succumbed to his injuries around 6 am.
In a separate incident, unknown persons burnt down the house of one Rakesh Naorem at Tentha which also falls under Wangjing-Tentha constituency. The incident occurred in the intervening night of March 4 and 5.
Another poll violence was also reported from Tengnoupal AC. Stray incidents of poll violence at polling station of Khudei Khunou, “A minor scuffle took place at 42/29 polling station in Tengnoupal AC at around 9 am, but the matter was settled peacefully and the election process was restored,” reports quoting the DEO said.
Meanwhile, in Nungba AC under Noney district, barely a few hours before the polling began on Saturday a voter alleged that some UG cadres came to Congress Camp around 3 am Saturday at Bwanruangh Taudaizaeng village and threatened that only 100 votes can be cast for Congress candidate. Bwanruangh Taudaizaeng village is located nearly 19 km away from Nungba HQ, reports added.
Amid simmering tension and tight security arrangements, several thousand voters came out to exercise their voting rights as phase-2 polling for the 12 Manipur Legislative Assembly Election 2022 began at 7 am on March 5 in 1,247 polling stations spread across 22 constituencies under six election districts in the state. A total of 4,988 polling personnel have been deployed in all polling stations, including 39 Model polling stations completely manned by women personnel.
ECI Orders Re-Polls at 12 Polling Stations
Amidst the demand for re-polls by the candidates and political parties in over 30 polling stations of the first phase of Manipur Legislative Assembly Elections 2022 held on February 28, Manipur CEO Rajesh Agrawal on March 3 announced re-poll of 12 polling stations in three districts – Imphal East, Kangpokpi and Churachandpur on March 5, on the polling day of second phase of Manipur Assembly Election 2022 as directed by the ECI.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on March 3 declared the poll taken on February 28 at the 12 polling stations as void and ordered fresh poll/re-poll in one polling station each in Khundrakpam AC and Saitu AC, another three in Thanlon AC, five in Henglep AC and two polling stations in Singhat AC, on March 5, from 7 am to 4 pm.
The ECI order said, in Imphal East district, 1-Khundrakpam constituency, re-poll has been ordered in polling station 1/20 Sarouthel. In Kangpokpi district, 51-Saitu (ST) constituency, re-poll will be held in polling station 51/46 New Keithelmanbi. In Churachandpur district, 56-Thanlon constituency, re-poll will be held in polling stations 56/5 Songsang, 56/10 Maite and 56/19 Tinsuong. In 57-Henglep constituency, re-poll will be held in polling stations 57/20 Majuron Kuki, 57/31 N Chingphei, 57/34 Khoirentak, 57/39 Molsang and 57/49 Leinom. In 60-Singhat constituency, re-poll was ordered in 60/36 Teikot and 60/43 Maukot polling stations.
Manipur Election-I Records 88% Turnout
The final voter turnout of the first phase elections was recorded at 88.63 per cent of the total 12, 09,439 voters. Voting for the first phase was conducted across 38 Assembly Constituencies on February 28. The total voter turnout of male was 87.29 per cent and 89.96 per cent for female voters.
Senior persons, youths, Person with Disabilities, Transgender, first time voters and others cast their votes at respective polling stations. For the first time IT applications were used to book wheelchairs and checking queue waiting time periods at polling stations, especially for PwD electors and elderly persons, said a statement issued by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Manipur.
Around 176 wheelchairs were booked through the IT application. In most of the polling stations, special efforts were made to ensure hassle free voting by elderly voters resulting in over 97 per cent of voters with 100+ age, it said.
It further mentioned that over 90 per cent transgender voters cast their votes. However, in Imphal East district, each transgender voters were given certificate signed by District Electoral Officer (DEO).
Besides, a total of 247 out of 253 SoO cadres voted from the 13 designated camps spread in Churachandpur district, Pherzawl district, Bishnupur district, and Kangpokpi district. The Election Commission of India had directed special arrangements for their voting which were made at each of the Polling stations for their voting through the postal ballot.
NSCN (I-M) Leader Muivah Unwell
General Secretary of Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim, NSCN (IM) Thuingaleng Muivah was on March 4 airlifted from NSCN (IM)’s designated camp at Hebron to a hospital in Dimapur. Camp Hebron, the NSCN (IM) Administrative and Military Headquarters, is located around 35 kilometres away from Dimapur.
Reports said Muivah was reportedly in a serious condition and rushed to Christian Institute of Health and Research (CIHSR) hospital in Dimapur on March 4 after he landed at the city airport at 4:30 pm.
Earlier, in July 2021, 87-year-old Thuingaleng Muivah, who has been leading the Naga peace talks with the Government of India (GOI) since the declaration of ceasefire from August 1, 1997, was admitted to a hospital in Dimapur on account of health issues.
Jairam Ramesh Charges BJP of Bribing UGs
Congress MP and AICC Observer for Manipur, Jairam Ramesh on March 3 continued to slam the BJP government and threw serious allegations of the BJP buying votes and bribing banned Kuki militant groups under the SoO (Suspension of Operations) in Manipur.
“In a shocking and flagrant violation of the Election Commission model code of conduct, the BJP-led Manipur government released Rs 15,70,32,000 to banned militant groups under SoO on February 1 and another Rs 92,65,950 on March 1,” alleged Jairam Ramesh on March 3.
The payment was released by the Union Home Ministry and made by the state government, Jairam Ramesh speaking to media on March 3 at Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) office at BT Road in Imphal said, “This is in complete violation of the code of conduct is nothing more than bribery and corruption”.
What is even more shocking is that around one lakh state government officials have not received their salary for two months, mid-day meal workers not getting their allocation for 18 months and the pensioners are not getting their retirement benefits, he pointed out.
The cheque number of the allotment made on February 1 is ‘517801’ and on March 1 is ‘517802’, Ramesh pointed out.
The bank account which received the cheque is an SBI account opened in the Secretariat branch and the account number ends with “…615892,” the AICC observer said.
“These payments have ensured that elections in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts in first phase have not been free, fair, and peaceful. Moreover, these bribes to SoO groups will also influence the elections in Tengnoupal and Chandel districts in the second phase,” he said.
Payments SoO Group Does Not Violated Election Code: CEO
The CEO Manipur on March 4 clarified that there is no violation of the Model Code of Conduct by the Government of Manipur by releasing payment of stipend to Suspension of Operation (SoO) groups before the General Election to the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly, 2022.
As per the reports submitted by the departments to the CEO, the amount of Rs 15,703 crore was released as backlog monthly stipend for SoO groups under KNO and UPF for the months of October, 2020 to September, 2021 at the rate of Rs 6000/ per cadre per month for approved strength of 1122 cadres of KNO and 1059 cadres of UPF as part of regular ongoing programme since 2008.
The release further clarified that a sanctioned amount of Rs 1, 02 crore was for payment of ﬁnancial beneﬁts to surrenderees as per Revised Scheme for Surrender—cum-Rehabilitation of Militants in the Northeast States and the same is not related to SoO groups.
Since the beneﬁciaries of the above scheme were already identiﬁed and approved before the announcement of the election and enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct, there is no violation of the Model Code of Conduct in connection With the 12th General Election to the Manipur Legislative Assembly, 2022, said the CEO.
Opium consignment seized from MLA’s Vehicle
A team of Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB) Manipur on March 2 seized around 34 kg of opium from a vehicle registered in the name of sitting Keishamthong MLA, Langpoklakpam Jayanta Kumar Singh, belonging to the National People’s Party (NPP).
Reports said the seizure was made at around 4.30 pm as a part of the drive against trafficking of illicit drugs and other contraband items in connection with the state assembly elections.
During the random exercise, a vehicle (Toyota Fortuner) bearing registration number MN06-LA-3456 with flag post, without escort was seen coming at Lamlai area in a suspicious manner from Ukhrul side. When the vehicle was signalled to stop by the NAB, the vehicle tried to escape from the NAB team, reports added.
However, the police team managed to stop the vehicle at Khurai Ningthoubung, Imphal East. During spot verification, the driver of the vehicle identified himself as Salam Khogen, 36, son of Salam Bobi of Kongpal Chingangbam Leikai, Imphal East.
MLA Langpoklakpam Jayantakumar on March 3 clarified that the vehicle seized along with opium by a team of Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB) is not related to him as the said vehicle was already sold to one Salam Khelen Singh of Tinsid Road, Khurai Chingangbam Leikai in Imphal East.
Addressing the media at his Pishumthong Oinam Leikai residence in Imphal West, the MLA said that the details of the vehicle are included in election affidavit but the vehicle was sold on February 12 after the filing of nomination paper for Phase I Manipur State Assembly Election, 2022.
As per ‘deed of sale’, it is mentioned that the vehicle (Toyota Fortuner), bearing registration number MN06LA 3456, was sold to Salam Khelen Singh, son of Salam Bobi Singh of Tinsid Road Khurai Chingangbam Leikai, Imphal East. The deed also mentions one assistant professor, Maibam Haripriya Devi as witness, reports said.
People Demand Justice for Ningthoujam Rohit
As BJP supporters laid out red carpet for Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Heirok, families and well-wishers of late Rohit, killed in poll-related violence, stage protest demonstrations, demanding justice.
The Union Home Minister addressed an election rally at Heirok Devi Mandop Lampak Heirok Part II amidst heavy security deployment. State and central security forces were seen lining from the main highway leading to the venue where the election rally was in the wake of the protest demonstration, reports said.
Protesters displayed placards and chanted slogans, “We demand justice.”, “Killers must be Punished.” among others as Shah’s convoy passed.
Rohit, who was pursuing his BA 5th semester in Thoubal College, was shot dead by alleged supporters of Heirok Assembly Constituency BJP candidate Thokchom Radheshyam on the intervening night of December 21 and 22, 2021 after entering his home. In connection with the incident, Thoubal District police arrested six accused persons, including the brother of the BJP candidate Thokchom Radheshyam.
Manipur Man Held at Kohima with Drugs
Personnel of the Narcotic Cell Police Station, CID, manning the Narcotic Check Point at Khuzama under Kohima district in Nagaland arrested one person from Manipur and seized drugs worth Rs 1.8 crore from his possession on February 27, sources said.
Reports said the incident took place when personnel of the Narcotic Cell Police Station stopped a vehicle for routine checking at around 1 pm on February 27. Police said a search of the vehicle and the occupant resulted in the seizure of 50 soap cases of suspected heroin powder weighing approximately 600 grams worth approximately Rs 1.8 crore in the illicit global market.
One person identified as Lenminthang under Motbung police station, Manipur, was arrested in this connection. In this connection, a case vides Narcotic Cell PS Case No. 003/2022 U/S 21 (C)/ 60 NDPS Act has been registered for further investigation, reports added.
Saitu AC INC Candidate Held
INC candidate of Saitu Assembly Constituency (AC) Lamtinthang Haokip was arrested by police for alleged poll violence on February 28 as voting for the first phase was underway. Lamtinthang was arrested along with one of his associates Jamkholet Haokip, 22, following a complaint lodged by the presiding officer of 51/56 New Keithelmanbi Upper Primary school polling station.
Reports said the duo was charged with certain acts under IPC and Representation of People’s Act with a common intention for assault to the public servant from discharging duty, mischief among others. Voting was stopped in the polling station in the morning around 10 am following a clash between BJP and INC supporters. Security personnel deployed in the polling station had to resort to firing several rounds in the air to disperse the mob.
An initial report said that around 9:30 am the INC supporters along with Haokip allegedly entered the polling booth armed with deadly weapons and destroyed the EVM and other polling equipment.
The BJP Manipur Pradesh also filed a complaint to the Chief Electoral Officer, Manipur to lodge an FIR and arrest INC candidate Lamtinthang Haokip and his associates.
Blast at Gate Bijoy’s gate
A bomb exploded in front of the house gate of former Chief Spokesperson of Manipur State Unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Chongtham Bijoy at 6.37 pm on March 4. His residence is located at Lamphel near Regional Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) in Imphal West.
Former Chief Spokesperson of BJP, Chongtham Bijoy told the media after the incident that he along with two colleagues named Indramani and Kishan Keisham were chatting when the incident occurred.
Reports said, as per CCTV footage, it was seen that two unknown persons with face masks came from the northern side of Bijoy’s residence in a scooter without a registration plate.
Bijoy said, “I do not understand why the bomb attack was carried out as I have no enemy. The only possibility could be a threat to silence me politically”.
A case has been registered at Lamphel police station for further investigation, reports said.