Pradeep Pattanayak

A clash erupted between two rival groups of a particular political party at Thakurani village near Guruda under Balada Panchayat of the mineral rich Joda Block in Keonjhar district on Sunday night. 

Though there were no reports of any serious injury in the group clashes, several four wheelers, auto rickshaws and bikes were damaged. 

Sources said while one group is supporter of the sitting MLA, the members of the other group are followers of a former MLA.

The supporters of both leaders locked horns over some differences which are yet to be ascertained. The initial fracases between the supporters of both the groups snowballed into a pitched battle with both sides resorting to stone pelting. 

No police case has been registered in this regard till the reports last came in.  

Notably, Joda Block will go to polls on February 22. 

Of the five phases of Panchayat elections, three phases have so far been conducted on February 16, 18 and 20, respectively. All these phases were marked by unprecedented violence, ranging from booth capturing to booth rigging, and from attacking officials and staff at the booths to assaulting journalists. Scribes were attacked in Binjharpur of Jajpur district while they were covering the third phase polling of the ongoing election on February 20. 

It is to be seen what security arrangements will be in place during the fourth phase Panchayat election, voting to be held on Tuesday.