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Border vigil during polls high on ECI priority

Aizawl: Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on Wednesday said that law enforcement agencies in Mizoram have been given stringent instructions to undertake extra vigil along the international and interstate for any inflow of liquor, cash and drugs during the coming state assembly elections.

Addressing a press conference in Aizawl, Kumar said that the Election Commission of India told the enforcement agencies to ensure that robust mechanism is in place for inducement free election in the poll-bound state.

Full commission of the central poll panel is on a three-day visit to Aizawl to oversee poll preparedness in Mizoram ahead of the election to 40-member state legislature is likely to be held within three months. 

Kumar said that check posts on strategic locations would be set up with monitoring by CCTVs and the concerned agencies will monitor all the helipads to prevent inflow of drugs, liquor and currencies.

Stringent actions should be taken by the concerned law enforcement agencies against drug and liquor kingpins while a strict watch should be maintained over online bribery and cash distribution, he said.

He said that the permissible expenditure for a candidate in the coming state assembly is raised from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 28 lakh.

When asked about Bru voters being continued to be enrolled in Mizoram voters’ lists even after they are permanently settled in Tripura, the CEC said that those permanently migrated to another state cannot have the right to vote in the place from where they have shifted.

He further said that the number of those Bru voters deleted will be reflected in the final publication of the state electoral rolls on October 4.

The central poll panel held meetings with law enforcement agencies, state chief secretary, DGP, deputy commissioners and district SPs of all the 11 districts when they discussed several poll issues including security concerns.

As of today, there are over 8.38 lakhs voters including 4.32 lakh female voters in Mizoram and the female voters outnumbered their male counterparts, which the CEC said as an encouraging trend.

Among the voters, there are 3,058 people with disabilities (PwDs), 9,190 voters above 80 years of age and 615 centenarians and above, he said, adding that there are 40,934 first time voters between the age of 18 and 19.

Among the 1,276 polling stations, there are 95 polling stations completely manned by women, 40 polling stations completely managed by youths and 11 polling stations to be managed by PwDs, while webcasting will be conducted in 50 per cent of the polling stations, he added. 

During the visit, the commission conducted meetings with various stake holders including representatives of political parties, government agencies/department who will be responsible for conduct of free and fair, accessible, participative and inclusive elections slated to be held by the end of this year, schedule of which is yet to be announced by the Commission.

On the first day of the visit, the commission conducted meetings with representatives of the political parties and sought their opinions. They heard their suggestions and requests relating to elections. After the conclusion of the first meeting, briefing and preparatory meetings with various enforcement agencies was conducted by the Commission. The CEC specifically emphasizing the need for vigil over the Inter state check posts across the neighbouring states, to ensure no cross border movement of illicit cash, liquor, drugs, freebies takes place. CEC asked the officials to step up the seizures with support from adjoining border states and instill fear of administration amongst the violators to fulfill the Commission’s resolve of an inducement free election in the state. He directed the state Police, CPF, State Excise and Narcotics Department and Narcotics Control Bureau officials to keep strict vigil and help curtail the drug menace. CEC also directed officials to keep a strict watch over social media for any violations and fake narratives vitiating the election atmosphere.

The Commission then conducted meeting with Chief Electoral Officer, State Police Nodal Officer and assessed the level of preparation with respect to the general preparation and analysed the force deployment plan as presented before the commission.

On the second day of the visit, the commission conducted review meeting with District Election Officers and Superintendent of Police off 11 Districts and sought information from DEOs on their preparedness for the Assembly elections. The commision also stressed on the importance of having a clean and error free E-roll and asked the officials to lay emphasis on the on-going 2nd SSR. The commission also conducted meeting with the State Authorities including the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police to oversee the level of preparation of election which was followed by Press Conference. The CEC during the press conference highlighted on the initiatives taken by the commission for the conduct of free and fair elections and requested the media fraternity to actively contribute in the festival of democracy by creating awareness among the general public on active electoral participation and refrain from fake news and misinformation.

On the final day of the visit, the commission will visit SVEEP exhibition conducted at Assembly House Annex building located at the centre of the city and interacted with the state Icons, PwD voters and young voters. 

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