The peaceful atmosphere of election day on June 26 in Alongmen Ward, Mokokchung, was shattered as violence erupted outside the residence of Indian National Congress (INC) candidate Bendangchuba, receiving widespread condemnation from across the state.

A collage of screen grabs from various videos of the violence that occurred in Alongmen Ward on June 26, which were widely circulated on social media.

As investigations unfold, Mokokchung Times discussed the incident with the two candidates in the ward and the security forces to grasp what actually happened.

INC candidate Bendangchuba

MT: Could you tell us what happened on June 26?

Bendangchuba (B): In simple words, I think you might have seen the video as well. Two of them came out to see my wife off to the polling station. They never intended to cast votes. But the villagers from the NDPP party said, “You are not a citizen of Alongmen Ward,” and they started dragging them. They pulled them, and then the mob attacked them first. We tried to stop them. I was also there. After that, they told the two of them to go home. And then, while coming down, they were caught and manhandled again. They came inside the house. The person who was first assaulted came inside. After that, some relatives and friends who had come to help me during the election for cooking and such were also attacked. They pulled one person out, started beating and kicking him, and that was all.

MT: Who are the two of them?

B: Two family friends.

MT: Who don’t belong to Alongmen Ward?

B: Yes. They just escorted my wife near the polling station. They never entered the polling station.

MT: How many people were injured? Were there severe injuries?

B: We did some medical checkups. There aren’t severe injuries, just some scars.

MT: How would you like to comment on the incident that happened yesterday?

B: I don’t want to comment.

MT: Do you believe the incident is condemnable?

B: Of course, it is.

MT: Do you believe that the culprits should be booked?

B: See, according to our democracy, what happened was not democratic. And the police investigation also came, the intelligence branch also. They wanted me to file an FIR, but I said no. Why? Because if I do that without the consent of the victims, the case will drag on for two to three months, maybe even years. Those victims are just daily wage earners. If they have to run around in court, what will they eat? So, I said no.

MT: Do you believe the security could have stopped the mob?

B: Our honorable MP Supongmeren also mentioned in his letter that Alongmen, Arkong, and Majakong wards are very sensitive, but we feel like it was ignored because only five to six security personnel were deployed by the administration. So, how could the security forces come and help? The security forces saw my wife asking those rogues not to do this and even asked where the Yimden is. Inside the station, she also cried out, but nobody came. It was a sensitive area; the DC was also pre-informed. Despite that, there were just five to six security personnel in the area.

NDPP candidate Imlikumzuk

MT also caught up with the NDPP candidate Imlikumzuk, where it was alleged that the mob were his supporters.

MT: Can you tell us what happened on June 26?

Imlikumzuk (I): I was at the polling station and the incident happened outside the perimeter of the polling station on the highway. I have no idea who did what and who instigated it. I have no knowledge about the incident.

MT: The allegation is that the mob is your party and supporters.

I: I am not aware of it.

MT: Would that mean you do not acknowledge them?

I: The incident happened outside the polling station, and yesterday, I was inside the polling station. That’s all. The video was going viral, saying that it was in Alongmen ward. It was only in the evening that I saw the videos and those WhatsApps that were circulating so much.

MT: Would you agree that it was a condemnable incident?

I: Yes, very much.

MT: And you wouldn’t encourage anyone doing such?

I: I don’t support anyone there.

MT: Do you also agree that the culprits should be booked and punished?

I: Regarding the culprits being booked and punished, I don’t know. That is not my concern because the incident happened outside the polling station.

MT: But would you also believe that the culprits should be given due punishment?

I: I can’t comment on that because I don’t know who else was there. I don’t know who the culprits were and who instigated these incidents.

Mokokchung DCC lodges complaint to RO cum ADC

The Mokokchung District Congress Committee (DCC) lodged a complaint on June 27 against Imlikumzuk, the NDPP candidate from Alongmen Ward, Mokokchung, for committing an act of gruesome violence at the residence of Bendangchuba, the INC candidate from the same ward.

The DCC highlighted that on the day of the poll, a mob of supporters of the NDPP candidate marched towards the residence of the INC candidate. They violently broke through the gate, creating havoc and threatening the lives of the candidate’s family members and party workers.

The complaint continued that during this unlawful and immoral pursuit by the NDPP supporters, many of the INC candidate’s supporters were “harassed and beaten up,” several sustaining severe injuries.

“Such inhuman, gruesome acts of violence not only violate several electoral and penal laws but also destroy the very fabric of our society at its roots,” it added.

Calling the incident “despicable and unforgivable,” the party condemned the undignified and harmful acts committed by the supporters of a candidate from a ruling government in the pursuit of votes.

“The party is also ashamed of the fact that such an unruly crowd still exists in a place like Mokokchung, known as the ‘Land of Pioneers’ that helped shape the state of Nagaland,” it added.

The party also noted that the ward where the violence took place was declared a ‘sensitive area’ by the district authority prior to the poll day. However, the district authority failed to take extra security measures despite this designation.

In this regard, the party requested the authority to investigate the matter at the earliest and book the culprits under relevant provisions of the law. They also urged the authority to take all other necessary actions deemed fit for the delivery of justice.

The party added that audio-visual clippings of the violence, as well as still images of injuries sustained by the victims, would be duly furnished.

When asked about the steps he has taken following the letter, RO cum ADC Chumlamo Humtsoe told MT he had forwarded the letter to SP Mokokchung for necessary actions.

NPCC condemns

The Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) also expressed shock and pain at the incidence of poll-related violence at the residence of Bendangchuba, INC candidate from Alongmen Ward, perpetrated by the supporters of his opposing candidate from the NDPP, Imlikumzuk, on polling day.

“It is a collective shame and tragedy that such acts of utter barbarism are allowed to play out publicly in wanton disregard to all laid down electoral, penal, and moral codes of conduct. It is a stark reminder of the depths to which the party and government of the day can stoop for power,” a press release from the NPCC communication department said.

Police deny security lapses

Following the incident, when asked whether there were any security lapses that led to the event, a police official said, “There were no security lapses on our part because we were in Sungkomen. Therefore, the moment we heard the news, we rushed to the place of the incident within ten minutes, but when we reached there, there was no one,” the police said.

The police further added that they returned to the polling station and inquired about the incident but were told that “there was no disturbance.”

“There are multiple candidates, so until and unless they submit a written report seeking security for their personal protection, we cannot provide them bodyguards. We had not received any such requests until yesterday. Our main concern was ensuring a peaceful poll at the polling stations. We have five sector commanders. Throughout the district, we have 11 sector commanders. Each sector is commanded by a sector commander. To make things more efficient and effective, we ensure the sector commanders are DSPs and Inspectors,” another official explained on the security arrangements.

“Regarding the incident at Alongmen, there were five stagnant teams in Mokokchung. The sector commanders are always on the move. We also had a striking reserve team. There were four striking reserve teams. We also had three anti-riot teams. Earlier, we received complaints of apprehension in Sungkomen and Tongdentsüyong, so one of our sector commanders was in Sungkomen. While I was on my way to Mongsenbai, I heard there were issues in Alongmen. I requested our sector commander to go there, ” another official explained, adding that there are challenges in dispersing the crowd as it is difficult to identify genuine voters.

“What we can assure you is that we tried our best and we were impartial,” added the police official.

Police files suo moto FIR

“We have now filed a suo moto case. We have started the investigation and have identified two victims. We took them today for medical checkups, and the investigation process is ongoing,” the police added. A “suo moto FIR” refers to a First Information Report (FIR) that is filed by the police on their own initiative, without a formal complaint from a victim or witness.

Further, the police disclosed that this is just the beginning, and they have started their investigation sincerely. However, the challenge lies in the lack of cooperation from the people involved.

Mokokchung Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *