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Voters await their turn during the first phase of parliamentary elections in Arunachal Pradesh
Voters await their turn during the first phase of parliamentary elections in Arunachal Pradesh|EastMojo Image
ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Violence, booth capturing mar polls in Arunachal Pradesh

Unconfirmed reports, videos posted on social media suggest there were untoward instances; EVMs destroyed, polling officials attacked in at least 10 booths across state

Irani Sonowal Lepcha

Irani Sonowal Lepcha

Itanagar: Reports of poll violence and booth capturing continued to surface from several parts of the state since morning on Friday, a day after simultaneous election to the Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats were held in Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday.

Several unconfirmed reports and videos posted on social media suggested that there were instances of violence and booth capturing in many districts while official reports later confirmed that there were occurrences of electronic voting machine (EVM) destruction and polling personnel being attacked in at least 10 polling stations across the state.

The people of Pating, an interior village under the Nyapin assembly constituency in Kurung Kumey district, purportedly witnessed suppression of democracy as the polling booth meant for the village was allegedly captured by volunteers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In a video released in regard to the incident, a person who supposedly belongs to the village can be seen alleging the BJP workers of trying to stop them from voting.

In another such video from the same area which went viral on social media, one of the polling agents of the Congress, who introduces himself as Bamang Togong, can be seen saying that he was not allowed to get to the polling station.

“Only the polling agents from BJP are present at the polling station. Even our voters [Congress supporters] are being barred from entering the polling booth,” Togong alleged in the video.

He also accused the BJP workers of kidnapping other polling agents of Congress.

The Nyapin assembly constituency witnessed a head-to-head contest between sitting MLA and BJP candidate Bamang Felix and Congress candidate Tai Nikio. Felix was elected unopposed in the 2014 elections.

Speaking with EastMojo, Tai Gungte, a local of Sangram village, said that his posts where he had narrated the aforementioned incidents were deleted several times on Facebook and there were several other instances on manhandling by the BJP workers.

When EastMojo contacted Felix to know more on the incident, he said that he doesn't know about the videos doing the rounds on social media. He also said that the presiding officers along with the police inspector were trying to safeguard the EVM boxes as Koloriang, which is the district headquarters, is very far and it was already dark then.

However, Gungte alleged that the officer-in-charge of Sangram police station snatched the EVM from one of the polling stations and took it to Felix's village.

The police officer was accompanied by presiding officers of four other polling stations which fall under the Nyapin constituency, he added.

The Kurung Kumey SP could not be contacted for his comments.

Speaking exclusively to EastMojo, state’s inspector general of police Sunil Garg said that a total of 13 cases related to poll violence had been registered throughout Arunachal Pradesh till Friday afternoon.

Garg acknowledged that there were instances of violence in Kra Daadi, Kurung Kumey, East Kameng, Lower Siang and Longding districts and said that his department is accumulating all the data and appropriate inquiry would be initiated soon.

“Besides making sure that law and order is maintained across the state, our top priority as if now is also to make sure that all the EVMs are collected and brought back safely for counting,” he said while adding that his department would make available all the reports in public domain by Saturday.

Sources informed EastMojo that the situation is still quite tense in Palin, the headquarters of Kra Daadi district, and in Sangram.

A platoon each of security forces has also been dispatched to these areas, the source said.