Imphal: High drama was witnessed as a Congress candidate was arrested for allegedly assaulting an on-duty polling personnel during the first phase of Manipur assembly elections, and later released on bail.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has decried the action against party candidate Lamtinthang Haokip in Saitu constituency of Kangpokpi district as a “murder of democracy” by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh.

Haokip was booked for various offences including “common intention for assault to public servant from discharging duty” based on a complaint filed with Imphal police station by the presiding officer of the New Keithelmanbi polling station, whom the candidate had allegedly assaulted.

He was arrested on Monday morning while polling was underway and released on bail after midnight.

Haokip’s polling agent Andrew Gangmei, in a letter addressed to Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Agarwal, claimed that the Congress candidate had rushed to the polling station after receiving complaints of BJP supporters indulging in booth capturing and proxy voting.

“He requested the polling official to ensure that the people were allowed to cast their votes as per their conscience and choice but he retaliated in a very unbecoming manner,” it said.

He said that this infuriated the candidate’s supporters and a scuffle broke out during which an EVM was damaged. The resulting melee led to polling personnel resorting to firing blank rounds to control the crowd.

Gangmei claimed that the presiding officer filed the complaint at the behest of the BJP candidate.

“Last night I met @DrLamtinthangHk INC candidate-Saitu who had been illegally and unjustly taken into custody at 10am in a brazen act orchestrated by BJP top brass. Finally my colleague got bail around 12:15am. But he was blatantly denied his democratic rights through polling day,” Ramesh tweeted.

Ramesh had gone to the police station with Congress supporters.

” this is murder of democracy by Union Home Minister & CM,” he said in another Twitter post.

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