Phase 1 turnout for the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 is 62%; nevertheless, unrest disrupts voting in West Bengal and Manipur

By the time the first round of voting for the Lok Sabha elections ended at 6 p.m. today, there had been over 62% of polling across 102 seats in 21 states and Union Territories (UTs). Meanwhile, there had been reports of intermittent violence in conflict-ridden Manipur and West Bengal, and there had been no voting in eastern Nagaland due to a shutdown call issued by the separatist Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization (ENPO).

Election turnout in West Bengal was 77.5%, while violent occurrences were reported in Cooch Behar.
Tripura had the greatest voter turnout of 80%, while Bihar had the lowest turnout of 48.5%. Manipur reported gun incidents, damage to EVMs, and threats to voters and agents.

With the exception of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduars, West Bengal had a voter turnout of 77.5%. Cooch Behar, one of the three state seats up for election on Friday, saw reports of violent occurrences.

Violent occurrences were reported from many booths in Manipur, which has been experiencing ethnic conflict between the Kuki and Meitei populations since May of last year.

The first round of voting concluded on Friday, marking the beginning of the 1.5-month-long process to elect the 18th Lok Sabha. There will be seven stages to the elections, and on June 4 there will be a vote count.

According to officials with the Election Commission of India, the polling percentage is expected to increase when the final data is received by Saturday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi encouraged people to cast ballots in historic numbers earlier in the day. Mallikarjun Kharge, the president of Congress, stated on page X, “The fight to protect our Constitution and democracy begins today,” and he urged people to cast their ballots properly. Rahul Gandhi, the head of the Congress, also urged people to start “mohabbat ki dukaan” in every region of the nation.

A shutdown call issued by an organization to press for its demand for Frontier Nagaland Territory caused poll workers in six eastern districts of the state to wait nine hours in their booths, but none of the four lakh voters in the region showed up, according to agencies covering the state of Nagaland, which has one parliamentary constituency.

The highest authority among the seven tribal organizations in the eastern area is the ENPO.

The district government and other emergency services were the only cars and people moving on the main streets in eastern Nagaland, according to officials.

Four lakh voters reside in the six districts of eastern Nagaland, out of the total of 13.25 lakh voters in the state.

In the meantime, the first round of voting in conflict-torn Manipur on Friday was marred by gun incidents, damage to electronic voting machines, threats against voters and poll workers by armed miscreants, and suspected manipulation.

In the first phase, voting was conducted in the parliamentary seats of Inner Manipur and a part of Outer Manipur. On April 26, voting for the remaining districts in the Outer Manipur seat will take place in the second round.

In Bishnupur, there was gunfire close to a voting place at Thamanpokpi. According to sources, the gunshot left three people wounded. The police and electoral authorities, however, declined to corroborate the report.

Since May of last year, Manipur has been rocked by ethnic confrontations between the tribal Kuki-Zo groups, who are the majority in a few hill districts, and the Meiteis, who are prominent in the Imphal valley. In addition to displacing almost 50,000 people, the violence has taken 221 lives.

Social media users also shared reports of EVM damage incidents with the general public. Arambai Tenggol, a hardline Meitei group that has been accused on social media of planning Friday’s violence, released a statement in which it denied any involvement and said the group’s name was being exploited. It claimed that employees and supporters of the candidates may have committed violent crimes.

Media sources state that while voters cast their ballots in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, and Jalpaiguri, there were incidents of violence, intimidation, and assault.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) each accused the other of harming their poll workers and agents and interfering with the state’s election process.

Nisith Pramanik, the current Coochbehar MP running for re-election as Minister of State for Home in the NDA government, said that TMC employees in the region were responsible for the violence.

Union ministers Nitin Gadkari (from Nagpur), Kiren Rijiju (from Arunachal Pradesh West), Arjun Ram Meghwal (from Bikaner), Bhupendra Yadav (from Alwar), Sanjeev Balyan (from Muzaffarnagar), and Jitendra Singh (from Udhampur) were among the prominent figures involved in the initial phase of the conflict.

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