The first phase of the Manipur Assembly election began on Monday at 7 am, and will end at 6 pm. Elections are being held in 38 constituencies.

Till 5 pm, a voter turnout of 78.03% was recorded, data from the Election Commission showed. Kangpokpi district (82.97%) registered the highest turnout, while Bishnupur (73.44%) reported the lowest figure.

Of the 38 seats, 29 are in the valley districts of Imphal West, Imphal East and Bishnupur. The remaining seats are in the hill districts of Kangpokpi, Churachandpur, and Pherzawl.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported across the state during polls.

In Churachandpur district, one person was injured in clashes between supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Kuki People’s Alliance. An electronic voting machine was also damaged and later replaced, according to the State Election Commission.

In Langthabal constituency, alleged Congress workers vandalised a booth set up by members of the BJP. A vehicle of a National People’s Party candidate was damaged by supporters of a rival group in the Keirao seat, according to PTI.

A security official belonging to the 8th Manipur Rifles was found dead in Pherzawl district, The Indian Express reported. The circumstances of his death remain unclear.

In Kangpokpi district’s New Keithelmanbi polling booth, repolling was ordered by the Election Commission after allegations of booth capturing emerged, according to India Today.

A total of 1,900 polling stations have been marked as vulnerable or critical, NDTV quoted state Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Agarwal said. He added that the authorities have made separate arrangements for cadres of rebel groups who want to cast their votes.

Several armed groups in Manipur came overground after a ceasefire was announced in 2008.

An armed underground group, the Kuki National Organisation has “appealed” to people to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party. The militant group seeks a separate state for the Kuki tribe in Manipur.

Several incidents of violence took place in the state ahead of polling.

On Sunday, two persons, including a minor, were killed and five others suffered serious injuries after a mortar exploded inside a home in Manipur’s Churachandpur district. The two people who died were identified as 6-year-old Mangminlal and 22-year-old Langinsang.

Last week, Y Joykumar Singh had said that poll violence had become a norm in Manipur. He had said that trends this year indicated that the polls would not be free and fair.

Singh had made the remarks after an incident where unidentified assailants had shot at the father of a National People’s Party candidate in Imphal East district.

On February 23, the Assam Rifles seized improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and explosive materials from the Moreh town, which is located near the Manipur-Myanmar border.

Meanwhile, the Congress on Sunday night expelled its candidate from the Wangoi constituency, Salam Joy Singh, hours before polls began in the seat, according to PTI. The Congress said that it found prima facie evidence that Singh allegedly breached disciplinary rules.

Key candidates whose fate will be decided on Monday include Chief Minister N Biren Singh, Deputy Chief Minister Yumnam Joykumar Singh, state Congress chief N Lokesh Singh, Speaker Y Khemchand Singh and state Minister for Public Works Thongam Biswajit Singh, India Today reported.

The second phase of the election will be held on March 5. The results will be declared on March 10.