Rashmi Ranjan

A presiding officer was thrashed black and blue by the residents of Kumarpur Panchayat in Basudevpur for allegedly tampering a ballot box at Ward number-10 during the fourth phase voting for the three-tier Panchayat elections on Tuesday.

Locals said the ballot box was sealed after the voting was over and was then shifted to the strong room. However, they found the seal was broken when it was received at the centre where the strong room is located, they said. 

Infuriated over the alleged irregularities, the villagers caught hold of the presiding officer, identified as Malay Ranjan Sahoo, and beat him up mercilessly, sources said.

Upon informed, the police rushed to the spot and rescued the poll official from the angry mob.

"After the voting, the ballot box was sealed. But, at the receiving centre we found the seal broken. We suspect someone tampered with the seal during the transit of the box to the receiving centre in a van," alleged Jatindra Sandhibigraha, former Sarpanch of Kumarpur.

The presiding officer however, dismissed the allegations levelled by the villagers and said those were ‘baseless’.

"The seal was not broken. However, a piece of cloth was torn while it was being shifted to the receiving centre," said Malay Ranjan Sahoo.

However, palpable tension still continues at Atal Bihati High School campus in Basudevpur block which has been converted into the receiving centre.