GARO HILLS (Meghalaya): As polling began for the Meghalaya Assembly on Monday, the first five voters received mementoes in a bid to encourage robust turnout and voting in the early hours.
Polling is underway at 3,419 polling stations across 59 Assembly constituencies of the state. The voting will continue till 4 pm.
Of the 60 Assembly constituencies in Meghalaya, 36 constituencies are in the Khasi, Jaintia Hills region while 24 are in the Garo Hills region.
Significantly, however, polling for the Sohiong Assembly constituency was postponed following the demise of the state's former Home Minister and United Democratic Party (UDP) candidate from the seat HDR Lyngdoh.
There are over 21 lakh electorates (21,75,236) of which 10.99 lakh are women and 10.68 lakh are male voters. In Meghalaya, the woman voters are in higher numbers than their male counterparts.
There are about 81,000 first-time voters in the state. As many as 369 candidates are in the fray of which 36 are women. Of the total 3,419 polling stations, 120 are all women-managed polling stations, 60 are model polling stations and another 60 are PWD polling stations.
The Election Commission has deployed 119 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) in Meghalaya. Chief Electoral Officer, Meghalaya FR Kharkongor said 640 polling stations are identified as 'vulnerable', 323 are 'critical' and 84 are identified as both.
The poll panel on Saturday ordered the sealing of Meghalaya's International border with Bangladesh till March 2. Meghalaya shares a 443 km border with Bangladesh and 885 km with Assam.
Chief Electoral Officer, Meghalaya FR Kharkongor, told ANI that, Meghalaya's International border with Bangladesh and the state border with Assam have been sealed.
"We have taken preventive measures to ensure a free and fair election in the State. Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed along the international bordering areas in the state," Kharkongor said.
Meanwhile, the district magistrate of East Khasi Hills district on Friday issued an order that movement of individuals will remain strictly prohibited within a one km radius of the India-Bangladesh border of East Khasi Hills district between February 24 and March 2.
The district administration of East Khasi Hills district has also imposed Section 144 of CrPC along the bordering areas. To ensure a free and fair election, Election Commission has banned publication of exit poll projections in Meghalaya from 7 am on Friday to 7 pm on the polling day -- February 27.
The current term of the 60-seat Meghalaya Legislative Assembly will conclude on March 15. The majority mark to form government in the state is 31. The counting of votes will be done on March 2.
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