16 cases of post-poll clashes in Tripura

Polling was by and large peaceful on February 16, registering a record turnout of 89.95 per cent, more than what was recorded in 2018

At least 16 cases of post-poll clashes have been reported from Tripura since Thursday, leading to the arrest of 21 persons and prompting the state poll authorities to hold “peace” meetings with political parties and candidates on Saturday.

Polling was by and large peaceful on February 16, registering a record turnout of 89.95 per cent, more than what was recorded in 2018 (89.38 per cent), state poll authorities said on Saturday, while spelling out the measures to curb post-poll violence.  

Tripura’s chief electoral officer (CEO) Gitte Kirankumar Dinkarrao said in Agartala that five cases of assault and clashes were reported on the day of polling besides a case of impersonation in the state.After the election, 16 cases of clashes have been registered — nine in Sepahijala district followed by two each in Gomati, Unakoti and West Tripura, and one in Khowai.

“FIRs have been lodged in all cases, 21 persons have been arrested and notices sent to over 100 persons… There were fights between party supporters and attacks and counterattacks on party offices on Friday. There was a chain of events. We have been able to contain it. We don’t want any such incident anywhere… We want zero violence. this is our appeal,” Gitte said.   

CPM sources said that the national highway connecting Assam was blocked in Unakoti district on Saturday in protest against BJP-backed goons’ attack on the Congress office and CPM members in Kumarghat. “The Left Front convener had lodged a complaint with the CEO on Friday regarding attacks on our cadres and houses across the state,” one of them said.  

On Thursday night, BJP candidate P. Datta accused the Congress-backed goons of attacking their members in the Agartala constituency. Eight persons sustained injuries. Political observers believe election to the 60 Assembly seats has largely seen a three-cornered contest between the ruling BJP-IPFT combine, the Left Front-Congress alliance and the Tipra Motha, a regional party formed in 2021.

The CEO also said peace meetings were held throughout the day by the 23 sub-divisional magistrates in the state’s eight districts on the post-poll scenario. They have appealed to the political parties and political candidates not to indulge in any activity that could trigger a “series of violence” and that they return to their normal life now that the polls were over, Gitte said. The political parties have submitted a list of vulnerable areas that may witness untoward incidents.  

“The SDMs have taken stock of the situation and forces have been alerted in these vulnerable areas,” Gitte said, adding the security personnel from outside will remain in the state even after the counting of votes on March 2 as part of their effort to instil confidence among the common people.

“The Election Commission has accepted our request to retain the additional forces in the state. We have enough forces and will respond to any incident promptly. Approach the SDMs if you have any issues. Don’t get involved in any post-poll violence. We will respond promptly to any incident,” Gitte said in his appeal to the masses.

The CEO lauded the people of poll-bound Meghalaya for the way they are treating the polls.  On the massive voter turnout despite stray incidents, the CEO revealed the last vote on Thursday was cast in the Dhanpur constituency around 10.55pm. He also declared that there would be no repoll in any constituency.

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