Violence forces some voters to go back to the polls

Mayhem: A polling station that was damaged by during the first phase of the general election in Khurai, Manipur. — Reuters

VOTERS at a handful polling places in a northeastern Indian state went back to the polls yesterday amid tight security after violence disrupted the vote last week.

Indian election authorities voided the results at 11 of Manipur state’s nearly 3,000 polling stations after armed men damaged election machines during the first day of voting in national elections last Friday.

State officials said that at at least six of the stations, armed men broke the electronic voting machines which citizens use to cast their ballots.

Manipur has been wracked by ethnic violence between the state’s two dominant ethnic groups since May 2023. Around 200 people have been killed and over 60,000 displaced as mobs have rampaged through villages and torched houses.

The unrest broke out when Christian Kukis protested a demand by the mostly Hindu Meiteis for a special status that would let them buy land in hills that populated by Kukis and other tribal groups.

The clashes have persisted despite the army’s presence in Manipur, a state of some 3.7 million people tucked in the mountains on India’s border with Myanmar.

The world’s largest democratic election began in India last Friday, as millions across 21 states cast their votes.

The six-week long multi-phase election is seen as a referendum on Narendra Modi, the populist prime minister who has made Hindu nationalism mainstream as he seeks a third, straight term as the country’s leader.

The votes will be counted on June 4. — AP

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