Five Dead amid India election violence in Manipur impoverished peripheral region bordering Burma | Democracy, elections and voting at Democracy Chronicles
India Election Violence in Manipur as rebels kill five in Manipur poll violence
By Penny MacRae (AFP) – Jan 28, 2012
NEW DELHI — Rebels shot dead five people at a polling station in India’s northeast on Saturday as voting began in the first of five local elections seen as a popularity test for the national Congress government.
The separatist rebels sprayed the voting booth with bullets, killing three election officials, a paramilitary trooper and a civilian in Thangpi, a village south of Manipur state capital Imphal, police chief Priya Singh said. “The militants opened random fire,” Singh told AFP, adding two other people were hurt in the attack which came despite tens of thousands of security forces deployed in a bid to thwart attacks during the voting for a new assembly.
The rebels who staged the attack on the crowded polling booth in far-flung Manipur were believed to be from the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, Singh said, but added no group had claimed responsibility. The voting in Manipur was the first of five assembly elections viewed as a mini-referendum for Premier Manmohan Singh’s embattled Congress coalition which is at the centre of a storm of corruption and mismanagement scandals.
National polls are due in 2014.
Tensions were already elevated in impoverished Manipur after five explosions in the run-up to the polls killed two people, along with rebel calls for a boycott of the election, police said. India’s northeast has been wracked by deadly separatist insurgencies since the country’s independence in 1947. At least 30 ethnic rebel groups are active in highly militarised Manipur, a state of just 2.7 million people. The voting in the states of Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Goa is being staggered through February and early March with the results to be announced in early March.