Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer FR Kharkongor on Thursday said the election machinery is taking stock of the arrangements to ensure that people vote in a free and fair atmosphere on October 30.

Talking about Wednesday’s clash between NPP and Congress supporters, the CEO said as per reports the clash was a result of political rivalry.

Kharkongor said 12 people from both sides sustained minor injuries in the clash that was quickly brought under control and there was no report of hospitalization.

Reacting to a query about security arrangements for the upcoming by-polls, the CEO said 4 companies of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) has been received from the Centre which will be effectively deployed in vulnerable areas.

“As per initial mapping, there are 29 vulnerable PS at Rajabala and about 8 in Mawryngkneng and 10 in Mawphlang. Apart from the CAPF, there will be deployment of state police and home guard in those areas that the CAPF can’t cover,” Kharkongor said.

The CEO also shared that there will be direct webcasting in all the 16 polling stations across the three constituencies.

Terming the clash on Wednesday “unprovoked” and not a premeditated one, Kharkongor said, “No further reports of any violations have been received. I’ve asked the DC and RO to keep strict vigil and report immediately any further developments. Today, a review meeting will also be held with the DCs of East Khasi Hills and West Garo Hills and the Chief Nodal officer will also be there, including the SPs. The discussion will be not only to take stock of this situation but also other security measures.”

It may be mentioned that some banned groups in the state have also issued threats against voting during the upcoming by-polls. Taking note of the threats, the District police of East Khasi Hills have been asked to deploy CAPF for area domination and conducting long range patrolling in vulnerable areas.

In addition, round-the-clock security will also be provided to contesting candidates.

Meanwhile, Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Vincent Pala accused the MDA government of arresting only Congress workers while sparing the NPP workers who allegedly pelted stones on Congress workers.

Pala said some supporters of the rival candidate pelted stones on Congress workers while they were returning after a meeting, injuring many. Following this, the Congress supporters retaliated, he claimed.

“The problem is that the MDA Government only  arrests Congress workers. They are not arresting NPP workers who started pelting of stones,” Pala said, while informing that they have already lodged an FIR into the matter.

Informing that he would speak to the DC and the SP on the matter, Pala also said that  he would urge the Chief Electoral Officer to take action against both sides and not just one side.

On the other hand, NPP state president WR Kharlukhi said as per news reports , it was the Congress workers who pelted stones on the NPP workers.

He also said that the Congress workers took out a procession after the campaigning, which is a violation of the model code of conduct.

Clashes broke out between supporters of NPP and Congress in Rajabala constituency’s Garodoubi village. Four people have been arrested in the case so far.

Videos of the clash between the supporters of the two parties soon emerged and showed those involved throwing stones at each other. Some local residents could also be heard shouting for help in the video.

Wednesday was the last day for campaigning for the by-polls to the three Assembly seats – Rajabala, Mawphlang and Mawryngkneng. The polling is scheduled for October 30 and the ballots will be counted on November 2.

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