Pre-poll violence: Manipur Agriculture minister escapes mob attack

Incidents of pre-poll  violence have been reported in Manipur as election campaigns in the five poll-bound Assembly constituencies gaining momentum after the Election Commission of India announced the by-election schedules.

Manipur Agriculture minister O Lukhoi Singh was saved from a mob by police as he was caught in the midst of a violent clash that broke out between workers of the BJP and locals of Samurou locality under Wangoi Assembly constituency in Imphal West district on Tuesday night.

Wangoi constituency is among the five Assembly constituencies where by-elections to fill the vacant seats of the state Assembly will be held on November 7 as announced by the ECI recently.

The seat of the Wangoi constituency is lying vacant after Lukhoi who was elected on Congress ticket in 2017 elections resigned from the state Assembly and joined the BJP to become a cabinet minister in the BJP-led coalition government.

Meanwhile, reports said that the violent clash erupted at Samurou locality of Wangoi constituency during an election campaign of the Agriculture minister who is likely to contest the by-poll on BJP ticket. The locality is the home polling of Salam Joy Singh who resigned from the BJP and joined the Congress and is planning to contest the by-poll on Congress ticket.

On Tuesday night, according to reports received, the Agriculture minister along with BJP workers visited the house of one of his active workers in the locality where tension was brewing after locals allegedly removed a BJP flag hoisted at his courtyard of the worker during the day.

Locals reportedly removed the flag while implementing a decision of the local youth club and women body restricting any kind of election campaign as a preventive measure to check spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the area.

When the minister arrived there, locals in large numbers rose up and protested against campaigning while asking the minister and his workers to leave the locality immediately, resulting in breaking out of the violent clash.

There was no report of inflicted serious injury to anyone in the clash. However, thelocals abused the minister who was caught in the midst of the mob. A large team of armed police who rushed to the area took control of the situation.

In their bid to protect the minister, the police fired several rounds of tear gas shells and mock bombs. 
Tuesday night’s incident was not the first poll related violence reported in the state since the ECI announced schedules for by-elections to five Assembly constituencies on November 7.

Similar incident had occurred during the election campaign of ex-MLA Md Abdul Nasir in Lilong Assembly constituency two days ago.

By-election to Lilong constituency is to be held to fill the vacant seat of the state Assembly after Nasir resigned as Congress MLA. 

A total of 13 seats of the state Assembly are lying vacant in Manipur. However, the ECI announced holding by-elections to only five of them citing pending court cases and election related petitions.

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