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ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Polling team attacked by 500 masked armed men in Arunachal

Armed with guns, machetes and sticks, assailants ‘destroy’ EVMs, exchange 100 rounds of fire with security personnel headed to booth in Koloriang for re-polling

Irani Sonowal Lepcha

Irani Sonowal Lepcha

Itanagar: A polling team on way to one of the two polling booths in Arunachal Pradesh where re-poll had been scheduled on Tuesday was attacked by around 500 armed masked men on Sunday.

Elections to two Lok Sabha and 60 Assembly seats in Arunachal Pradesh were held on April 11. But re-polling had to be ordered a few times at several booths in more than a month.

Acting on complaints and requests of rival contestants and local organisations, the Election Commission had on May 18 ordered re-poll at Nampe under Koloriang Assembly constituency in Kurung Kumey district and Gimba under Tali Assembly constituency in Kra-Daadi district.

On Sunday morning, the polling team comprising security personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force and two sections of the Indian Reserve Battalion were waylaid at Lumbung – about two hours’ journey from Koloriang town – by at least 500 masked men armed with guns, machetes and sticks. The assailants reportedly destroyed EVMs and 100 rounds of fire were exchanged.

Nodal election officer Sunil Garg confirmed the attack and said legal action would be taken. “There are rumours that AK-47 and automatic guns were used by the attackers but it is true that the security personnel were waylaid and are left high and dry at Lumbung,” he said.

He also said that the Kurung Kumey district superintendent of police and his team left for Nampe on Sunday night after receiving information of the incident. “We will know the details after they return,” he added.

The polling team had left Koloriang under security cover on Sunday morning to reach Nampe by Monday. The team was to have halted at Parsi Parlo en route on Sunday.

A senior police officer requested the candidates of the two constituencies and the people to maintain peace and let the re-poll be completed in the greater interest of the state. He told that sufficient security personnel have been deployed for the re-poll at Nampe as well as Gimba.

On Tuesday, the re-poll went on peacefully amid presence of security forces. However, the final report is yet to arrive and election officials are yet to comment on the same.

Meanwhile, NPP candidate Pani Taram through a representation to the DEO has demanded for cancellation of voting at Nampe polling booth. Taram in the representation alleged that genuine voters supporting NPP were not allowed to reach the polling station. The opposition blocked both the roads reaching Nampe polling booth (one is through Parsi-Parlo and other is through Damin), Taram said in his representation. He further appealed for cancellation of Nampe polling station and counting of votes for the same.

EastMojo sources revealed that there are about 70 voters who were unable to reach Nampe polling station.