4 poll officials abducted, produced in Praja court by Maoists

Malkangiri: As the State is readying for panchayat elections next month, five persons including four poll officials were on Friday abducted by suspected Maoists from the Chitrakonda cut-off area of the district.

The officials have been identified as Purusottam Behera, Hrushikesh Naik, Praveen Soren and Kaminikant Se. Sources said, Jodamba village head Laxman Sisa’s son Manoranjan Sisa is also among the abducted persons.

Another poll official, Lingaraj Majhi, who was suspected to have been kidnapped, however, managed to give a slip to the rebels. Sources said, he has reached the Kudumulugumma block office to meet the BDO. Majhi was not in the office when the ultras stormed the local poll office. He came to know from the locals about the Maoists’ search for him and escaped from the village.

Information reaching here said the ultras have produced the kidnapped persons before a Praja Court (people’s court) in Similipadar village in the region. The horrifying act of the red rebels comes days after they put up posters in Kudumuluguma village of the district asking locals to refrain from ensuing panchayat polls.

Meanwhile, police said all efforts are made to trace the kidnapped officials.

“Five polling officers and one ex-Sarpanch are untraced. We are unable to establish communication with them. I’m not sure whether they are kidnapped or what is their status. We have sent separate teams to trace the whereabouts abducted persons”, DGP KB Singh said.

The top cop added no claim has been made by the Maoists yet.

Expressing concern over the matter Asit Tripathy, Principal Secretary of the Home department said the information is yet to be confirmed from district police.

“Five officials had gone to the cut-off area to supervise panchayat poll-related work and to collect nomination papers. There is a rumour in the area that they may have been kidnapped. But, this is not all confirmed. The district collector and Director General of Police have been asked to confirm,” Home secretary Asit Tripathy said.

In a related development State Election Commission has sought a report from Malkangiri collector on the matter.

Meanwhile, family of the victims appealed to the Maoists to free them as they were on government duty. “He was on election duty for last three days. Today, I came to know from TV report that he has been abducted. We are panicked over the matter. I appealed to the Ultras to release him”, said Minati Se, wife of Kamalakanta.