Polling in at least half of the total of 60 assembly seats in Manipur is now uncertain with the United Naga Council (UNC) deciding to intensify the now nearly three-and-a-half-month-long stir in the border state. Assembly polls in Manipur will be held in two phases on March 4 and 8.
For weeks now, the Nagas, who dominate hill districts of Manipur, have blocked the main highways -- NH-2 and NH-53 -– that connect the state to the rest of India. They are protesting against the formation additional districts in Manipur. The Nagas, who are in talks with New Delhi, claim that the creation of additional districts puts them at political disadvantage by encroaching upon and dividing their land.
The UNC called for an indefinite economic blockade preventing transportation of essential goods from the hills to the valley. In retaliation the Meiteis – the majority ethnic group in Manipur - have blocked roads and have stopped vehicles carrying essential goods from moving to the four Naga-dominated hill districts from Imphal Valley.
Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh on Wednesday met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Sources said the Union Home Minister has asked him to bring back normalcy immediately failing which the Centre will be forced to act. The Manipur chief minister is understood have told the Home Minister that the Centre should use its influence over the Nagas to diffuse the situation.
Sending EVMs, election material, protection of polling staff remain the main worry of the Election Commission. The centre is likely to send another 40 more companies (each company comprises at least 100 soldiers) of central paramilitary forces (CAPFs) to Manipur. This is addition to 135 CAPF companies that are positioned in Manipur already.
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