The election-related violence continues to haunt various parts of Arunachal Pradesh before, during and after the polls. While conducting free and fair election in a democracy, violence is one of the greatest threats which call for an immediate and stern resolve.
The recent reports on election- related violence in various parts of the state needs more effective approaches from government and civil society to prevent the violence during election.
In most cases, the violence was triggered by the rivalry between the contesting candidates. Allegations of booth capturing and EVM destruction are surfacing in the news. Disruptions of the voting process by spoiler groups in elections have ignited conflicts and disturbed the polling process in many polling stations.
These incidents are not new or unexpected.
In many places of Arunachal, election related violence is indeed anticipated, places where tensions and conflict are part of the political climate; as politics is so deeply rooted in each and every household of such areas.
Election Commission should institute reforms in modalities for polling stations keeping in mind the sensitivity of a place, especially far flung interior parts of the state.
The security forces needs to be mobilized in sufficient numbers to control the obstructionists at hyper sensitive polling stations. Without enough security, the lives of polling officers on duty are also at stake since we have witnessed many such cases of physical assault on officers on duty during polling. Violence during elections can also be mitigated if not totally controlled, by framing codes of conduct for political parties and candidates with strong sanctions penalizing election violence including cancellation of candidature if found guilty in inciting violence.
Furthermore, sincere attention should be given to the polling station locations, so that the needs of voters in rural and remote areas are catered fairly.
If the allegations of booth capturing are substantiated during or after elections, re-polling should be done with the same voters, at the same station with enough security and safety.
A free and fair election process is the sign of a true democracy. All possible measures should be taken to let common people exercise their adult franchise in a safe and secure environment.
Daniel K. Deb,