Ahead of polls, security tightened at borders of poll-bound Mizoram
Aizawl, Nov. 27 (IANS): Ahead of the voting to elect a new Assembly in Congress-ruled Mizoram on Wednesday, the authorities on Tuesday sealed India’s borders along the Northeastern state with Myanmar and Bangladesh, an official said here on Tuesday.
A senior Mizoram Police official said that around 11,100 security personnel comprising central para-military and state security forces have been deployed to further tighten the security to foil any attempt to create any trouble during the Wednesday’s polling.
“In view of the Assembly polls, BSF and Assam Rifles troopers have been asked to seal Mizoram’s borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar and further intensify their vigil along the international frontiers to prevent any kind of cross-border movements by inimical elements,” Mizoram’s Joint Chief Electoral Officer Zorammuana told IANS.
He said: “Following the directions of the Election Commission, the authorities also asked the security forces to further tighten the security along Mizoram’s inter-state borders with Tripura, Assam and Manipur. No movement other than of those associated with the election process would be allowed at the inter-state borders.”
Mizoram shares 310-km unfenced borders with Bangladesh and 510-km boundaries with Myanmar without any fencing. The Border Security Force (BSF) troopers have been deployed along the Bangladesh borders, while the Assam Rifles, under the Army, have been posted along at the Myanmar borders.
Zorammuana said around 7,075 electoral officials have been engaged to conduct the elections from 7 a.m to 4 p.m.
Chief Electoral Officer Ashish Kundra said here that the electoral officials escorted by security personnel have already reached all the 1,164 polling stations across the state. The Election Commission has set up 15 special polling stations at Kanhmun, a village along the Mizoram-Tripura border, to facilitate voting by Reang tribal refugees, sheltered in Tripura for the past 21 years.
Of the over 35,000 tribal immigrants, 11,232 are eligible to cast their votes in the Assembly elections.
The CEO said that around 40 all-women managed polling stations have been set up across the constituencies in which the entire polling staff, including the police and security personnel, are women.
“The VVPAT (Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines would be used along with EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) in all the 40 constituencies to enhance transparency and credibility of the elections,” Kundra told the media.
Unlike in other states of the country, Church-backed Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF) plays a unique role in ensuring free and fair elections in Christian-dominated Mizoram.
Started in 2006, it launched an initiative equipped with a mechanism to name and shame any wrongdoing by a candidate or any individual on community loudspeakers for one and all to know. Significantly, the entire exercise is sincerely followed by each member of the deeply religious Mizo society.
A total of 209 candidates, 67 higher than in 2013 state polls, are in the fray for the Wednesday’s elections to the 40-member Mizoram assembly.
Of the 209 candidates, 15 are women. In 2013, only six women had contested and none were successful.
Like the previous elections, women voters once again outnumber the men in Mizoram. Of the 768,181 voters, there are 393,685 women and 374,496 men.
The five-year term of the Mizoram Assembly ends on December 15.
Besides two national parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), many regional and local parties have fielded candidates in most of the 40 Assembly constituencies. They include main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM), Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and Meghalaya-based National People’s Party (NPP).
However, the main contest is likely to take place between the ruling Congress and the MNF.
The Congress has been in power, except for 10 years, since the Mizoram become a full-fledged state in 1987. The MNF, a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), ruled during those 10 years — 1998-2003 and 2003-2008.
Vote will be counted on December 11 along with four other poll-bound states – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Chattisgarh.