Free and fair assurance for Nagaland

Kohima, Jan. 24: The state election department is optimistic that elections will be conducted in free and fair manner.

Chief electoral officer J. Alam said in addition to 13,000 personnel from state police, homeguards and village guards, 180 companies of paramilitary forces will be deployed for the elections on February 23.

Of this, 26 companies will arrive in the state by February 2 for pre-poll security and law and order duty. Assam Rifles will also assist the conduct of elections.

"We are very confident that elections would be conducted in a free and fair manner," Alam said.

He said this year's elections would not be a repeat of last time's when repoll had to be held in some places.

There will be 2,023 polling stations spread across the state where 2,800 EVMs have been arranged and of which, 900 were brought from Assam.

Already first-level checks have been conducted.

Altogether 1,19,2377 electorates will elect 60 members.

There will be 13 expenditure observers, one special state-level observer, 22 general observers, three each for Mokokchung and Mon districts, two each for Zunheboto, Wokha, Phek, Dimapur, Tuensang and Kohima and one each for Peren, Kiphire and Longleng.

There will also be 11 police observers of the rank of DIG and above to monitor the security personnel.

The state election department is yet to work out how many police stations are without road connectivity, but in the 2008 elections, the number was 61.

Alam said proxy voting and election malpractice would be strictly dealt with.

So far, Nagaland has conducted 11 elections since it attained statehood in 1963.

The electoral officer also appreciated the clean election campaign by the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC).

"We are making elaborate arrangements to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in the state and we hope that we will receive the fullest co-operation of the political parties, villages and town authorities, NGOs and the people," he said.

He urged the people to discourage proxy voting.

"We hope to do much better than the last elections," Alam said.

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