Voters in northeast India return to polls after violence disrupts first day of election

A soldier stands guard as women queue up to vote.
A Border Security Force soldier stands guard as women queue up to vote during a re-polling in Imphal West District, Manipur, India, on Monday.
(Bullu Raj / Associated Press)

Voters at a handful of polling places in a northeastern Indian state went back to the polls amid tight security Monday after violence disrupted the vote last week.

Indian election authorities voided the results at 11 of Manipur state’s nearly 3,000 polling stations after armed men damaged election machines during the first day of voting in national elections Friday.

State officials said that at at least six of the stations, armed men broke the electronic voting machines, which citizens use to cast their ballots.


Manipur has been wracked by ethnic violence between the state’s two dominant ethnic groups since May 2023. Around 200 people have been killed and more than 60,000 displaced as mobs have rampaged through villages and torched houses.

With close to 970 million voters, India’s general election pits Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, against a broad alliance of opposition parties.

April 19, 2024

The unrest broke out when Christian Kukis protested a demand by the mostly Hindu Meiteis for a special status that would let them buy land in hills populated by Kukis and other tribal groups. The clashes have persisted despite the army’s presence in Manipur, a state of 3.7 million people tucked in the mountains on India’s border with Myanmar.

The world’s largest democratic election began in India on Friday, as millions across 21 states cast their votes. The six-week long multi-phase election is seen as a referendum on Narendra Modi, the populist prime minister who has made Hindu nationalism mainstream as he seeks a third, straight term as the country’s leader. The votes will be counted June 4.

The main opposition Congress party on Friday had alleged that the vote was being rigged in Manipur and demanded re-polling at 47 stations. Earlier that day, there were incidents of clashes among armed groups in the state. Despite the violence, the state saw 66.5% voter turnout.

Other parts of the state will also head to the polls Friday for a second phase of voting.