Security concerns dog Morang voters

Biratnagar, November 28

As provincial and parliamentary polls approach and reports of explosives being found in Morang appear, voters’ fear for their safety has increased.

Yagya Budhathoki, a resident of Biratnagar metropolis, told THT, “Had the first phase of provincial and parliamentary polls been absolutely peaceful, I would have felt confident about security in the second phase.”

Manoj Ramtel, a resident of Morang-6, said though he would cast vote, he was a bit concerned about his safety.

Sitadevi Ray of Biratnagar metropolis said, “People in my vicinity say there could be clashes on election day. Although I’ll go to cast my vote, if anything untoward happens, I’ll return.”

Superintendent of Police Arun Kumar BC said a team of Nepali Army defused five socket bombs and two hand grenades in Kerabari Rural Municipality yesterday. “We have the resources to maintain law and order in the run up to the polls,” he added. He tried to allay voters’ fears, saying security personnel had increased patrolling in the district, including border areas, and had also mobilised sniffer dogs. “We have discussed security issues with our Indian counterparts and they have pledged to check smuggling of arms in the run-up to the elections,” BC added. “We are alert all the time. Voters can vote without fear,” he added.

Chief District Officer of Morang Ram Prasad Acharya said although there had been no blast in the district, he feared that the security situation could become sensitive in the district, as anti-poll elements might infiltrate the district. He added that security personnel deployed in the district could reach troubled spots between two and five minutes. The CDO said he was coordinating with neighbouring districts to gather intelligence about possible infiltration of anti-poll elements in Morang from other districts, particularly those where the first phase of elections have already been held.

There are 300 polling stations and 758 polling booths in Morang district, where 644,782 voters are eligible to elect six members of Parliament.

Security set-up

  • 5,351 police personnel, including 3,157 temporary cops, deployed in Morang
  • As many as 1,158 APF personnel are being deployed
  • NA active in 18 places and APF in 75 places of the district, apart from their mobile teams
  • Five polling stations are highly sensitive and 11 sensitive
  • Polling stations in upper northern areas are highly sensitive due to difficult terrain