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Watchdog to map poll violence in North East

Guwahati, March 12 (IANS) In a first-of-its-kind, a watchdog group has been launched to map electoral violence in the northeastern states in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

The Social Actions for New Alternatives (SANA) promotes “clean elections” in India and electoral violence mapping is a part of its campaign, Bidhayak Das, Executive Director of SANA, said here on Monday.

“The SANA will address the need for electoral reforms in India, particularly in the states inhabited by large indigenous population, generally isolated from the development process,” he said.

The group would keep a watch on elections and document every aspect of the process independently, he added.

Das said the initiative would gradually be extended to other states.

Two hundred volunteers will be trained to document the process, which will involve interviews with stakeholders, constituency visits, tracking election-related complaints, electoral violence mapping, sampling voters’ concerns and watching the conduct of elections on polling day and after.

A report would be circulated to all stakeholders soon after elections, said Das, an international election observer.

“We shall use all online information sources available to first get a sense of the scale of violence, after that subject it to a process of verification and measure its impact on the electoral process,” he said.

“It is important to be able to understand how different forms of violence can impact a free and credible election, and that applies to Assam. Besides, it would also help prevent escalation of violence and make the process free and secure for voters,” he said.

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