LS polls: EC reviews security situation in states, special focus on Manipur

New Delhi/Imphal, April 3 (IANS) The Election Commission, in its meeting here on Wednesday to assess the law and order situation ahead of the 7-phase Lok Sabha elections beginning from April 19, also reviewed the situation in Manipur, which witnessed devastating ethnic violence since May 3 last year.

Officials said that the meeting, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, discussed the recent violence and turmoil in Manipur and its ramifications for the conduct of peaceful elections.

The Election Commission has earlier directed the authorities in Manipur to arrange adequate provisions to ensure and facilitate all Internally Displaced People (IDPs) to cast their votes for the Lok Sabha elections at the special polling stations without any difficulty.

The special polling stations would be set up in all the relief camps in different districts so that the voters among the IDPs could cast their votes in the Inner Manipur and Outer Manipur Lok Sabha seats, which go to polls in two phases on April 19 and 26.

A six-member Election Commission team, led by Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Dharmendra Sharma, visited the state last week and conducted a thorough review of election preparedness.

The Manipur government is currently operating around 320 relief camps with more than 59,000 men, women and children sheltered there.

The Commission, in the meeting, also reviewed support from the Indian Air Force and state Civil Aviation Departments for sorties to ferry polling teams in challenging regions of 11 states including Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra.

In Itanagar, Chief Electoral Officer Pawan Kumar Sain said that security forces would maintain a strict vigil along the India-Myanmar border to prevent any attempt by inimical elements from across it to disrupt the poll process in Arunachal Pradesh.

The state will go to simultaneous polls for two Lok Sabha and 60 Assembly constituencies in the first phase on April 19.

"We have directed the forces deployed along the border to conduct round-the-clock patrolling and maintain a close vigil," the CEO told the media.

He said that strict vigil of the inter-state borders with Nagaland and Assam would also be ensured.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Secretary and Director General of Police have held several rounds of meetings with their counterparts in Assam and Nagaland and resolved certain issues that cropped up during the 2019 elections, Sain said.

The CEO urged the people who have not yet deposited their licensed firearms to deposit those within four days or face strict legal action.

Security along the 1880-km-long borders with Bangladesh and the 1,643-km-long boundary with Myanmar, along various northeastern states, have already been further tightened in view of the parliamentary elections.

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