Manipur goes to polls on Saturday

Imphal: Manipur goes to polls tomorrow in the shadow of bomb attacks by militants to mark the start of crucial Assembly elections in five states including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Authorities are keeping a close watch on the security situation in this North-Eastern state during voting to elect the 60-member Assembly amid reports that some insurgent groups might disrupt polling at some places. A total of 279 candidates are in the fray to enter the 10th Assembly.

Official sources said today that only central para-military personnel would be deployed at the polling stations where no state security personnel would be present. But if required, state personnel would join the central forces in manning the polling stations, the sources said.

Elections in Punjab and Uttarakhand will be held on January 30 and in Goa on March 3, the same day when the final phase of the seven-phased polls in UP will end. Counting of votes is due to be taken up on March 6.

A majority of the polling and security personnel have reached polling stations across Manipur, the election office said. In Imphal East and Imphal West districts, they would reach by tonight.

There would be 12,967 polling personnel to conduct the voting at 2,357 polling stations. The polling would begin at seven am and end at four pm, the election office said. An electorate of 17,40,576 voters including 8,82,236 female voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.

Reports reaching the state capital indicated that insurgent organisations might target some poll candidates as there have been a spate of blasts in the past few days.

Only this morning a person was injured when militants exploded a bomb at the house of a former Manipur government official at Thangmeiband in Imphal West district.

Official sources said the militants lobbed the bomb at the house of Bilasini Devi, a doctor, whose husband had contested the last elections.

Militants also exploded a powerful bomb in the capital complex here on the Republic Day yesterday, but no casualty was reported. They exploded two powerful bombs at Kakwa in Imphal West district on January 25 night.