The Election Commission has allowed the cadres of the pro-talks militant outfits of Manipur, who are currently residing at various designated camps, to cast their votes using postal ballots in the two-phase Assembly elections scheduled on February 27 and March 3, top officials said on Saturday.
Manipur Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Agrawal said that the EC has allowed the cadres of the pro-talks militant outfits which are under ceasefire agreements with the government and those who are currently residing at various designated camps in the state to cast their votes.
“The cadres of the pro-talks militant outfits would be allowed to exercise their franchise in the upcoming elections through postal ballots. Around 2,000 cadres of various militant outfits are living in the 14 designated camps in different parts of Manipur,” Agrawal told IANS.
However, the names of the cadres of the extremist outfits should be in the electoral roll of Manipur, the CEO said.
The poll panel has taken the decision in consultation with the Central and state governments.
According to the officials of the Manipur Home Department, over 20 Kuki militant groups operating in Manipur under two conglomerate groups — United People’s Front (UPF) and Kuki National Organisation (KNO) — had signed a tripartite Suspension of Operation agreement with the Manipur and Central governments in 2008.
Another election official said that the poll panel has also allowed those involved in essential services to avail the facility of postal ballots to cast their votes.
According to the ECI’s notification, the list of essential services includes Electricity Department, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, Railways, Post and Telegram, Doordarshan, All India Radio, Health Department, aviation, fire services, ambulance services and mediapersons authorised by the Commission for poll-day coverage.