OUR BUREAU New Delhi

With the terror shadow looming large over Manipur going to the polls on Saturday, the Election Commission on Friday asked the state election authorities and police to maintain maximum alert and take the most stri

ngent measures to ensure the process is not vitiated.

Manipur is the first of the five states to go to polls on Saturday, followed by Uttarakhand and Punjab on January 30, Uttar Pradesh in phases during February and Goa on March 3.

The Commission is keeping a direct watch over the developing situation in Manipur and would take all measures necessary to ensure free and fair polls, an EC press note said.

It said the Commission has noticed some violent and extremist activities in certain areas of Manipur, including attack on the polling staff and it is keeping track of the developing situation, especially in some of the districts and constituencies.

The Commission had kept out the state police from duty at the polling stations to ensure the local police personnel do not influence the votes. Only Central para- military personnel are deployed at the polling stations, but the state police personnel are kept as a standby in case the situation worsens during the polling.

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