Manipur polls: ECI approves postal ballots for militants in ‘designated camps’
Members of militant groups living in the 14 designated camps in Manipur have been enrolled in the electoral rolls of various assembly constituencies of the state.
IMPHAL: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has notified that the members of militant groups in Manipur which have signed Suspension of Operation (SoO) and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the governments and currently stationed at the designated camps are entitled to vote by postal ballot (PB) in the upcoming assembly elections, scheduled to be held in two phases on February 27 and March 3.
“The decision was taken in exercise of powers conferred by clause (c) of Section 60 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and in consultation with the central government,” said the office of the Chief Electoral Officer Manipur in a press release on Friday night.
The decision was made considering that a number of persons belonging to the SoO and MoU groups living in the 14 designated camps in Manipur have been enrolled in the electoral rolls of various assembly constituencies of the state.
The ECI has directed that these electors shall be allowed to vote through postal ballot taking into account their right of franchise as they cannot move out of the said designated camps.
“The notification further mentioned that a survey shall be made for appropriate location of Postal Ballot Facilitation Centers (PBFC) for distribution, recording, collection of PB in different camps of SoO and MoU groups,” the release said.
“Such proposed Postal Ballot Facilitation Centers will have facilities for the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO)’s office, place to record votes, party representatives to watch the proceedings from a distance and collection of recorded votes,” it said.
Efforts will be made to see that voters are not required to travel more than prescribed limits to cast their vote. The ARO shall ensure that the marked PBs reach the Returning Officer well before the commencement of votes, it added.
More than 20 kuki militant groups under two umbrella bodies namely United People’s Front and Kuki National Organisation have been under SoO in the north eastern state since August 2008.
Manipur has a total of 60 Assembly constituencies. In the first phase, elections will be held for as many as 38 constituencies and the remaining 22 constituencies will vote in the second phase.