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Pradeep Pattanayak

High drama unfolded at the Block office in Khalikote of Ganjam district on Tuesday night when two Zilla Parishad candidates threw themselves at the feet of the Block Development Officer (BDO), demanding beefing up of security arrangements at the strong room. 

At a time when the fate of the candidates in the fray for the Panchayat elections are sealed in the ballot boxes, contestants in some places are getting anxious about the security arrangements at the strong rooms. 

Such allegations of lax security at the strong rooms have emerged from Khalikote Block. Two Zilla Parishad candidates of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have brought this allegation.   

Jagyan Narayan Das, candidate for zone-11 and Ramchandra Vaidya, contesting from zone-13, had earlier visited the strong room to check the security arrangements. However, they were not satisfied with the steps taken to provide security to the strong room. 

When their requests for stepping up security fell on deaf ears, the candidates prostrated themselves at the feet of the BDO, requesting her intervention. 

“It will be an exaggeration to call that room a strong room. The window at the back side of the room is covered by a thin five-inch brick wall. Moreover, the CCTV cameras are installed in such a way that they don’t cover the entire room,” alleged Das. 

“I urged the BDO to install another CCTV camera and allow me to provide a good lock to the room. But the BDO didn’t listen to me. With no option left, I fell at her feet,” said Das. 

When the entire drama was played out before hundreds of onlookers, the Chhatrapur Sub-Collector, SDPO, Khalikote tehsildar and policemen present at the spot chose to keep quiet. They did not even try to stop Das and Vaidya. 

However, following the incident, the number of CCTV cameras at the strong room was increased. 

“The decision to set up the strong room was taken in the presence of the district Collector, PD DRDA, IIC, Tehsildar and BDO. Jagyan Narayan Das along with another person had visited the room. Following complaints of inadequate surveillance at the strong room, we installed CCTV cameras in a very short time,” said Krushna Chandra Panda, the Gram Panchayat Extension Officer (GPEO).

However, the BJP workers are far from being satisfied with the arrangements and are mounting round the clock surveillance of the strong room. 

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