Tension ran high at booth no-IV of Kolha Panchayat in Bhadrak district as irate locals assaulted the presiding officer and threw the ballot box into a nearby pond during polling of votes in the third phase of Panchayat elections on Sunday.
According to sources, the voting in the area went on uneventfully till the closing hour, however, after 1pm, the officers at the booth were about to seal the ballot box when dozens of people barged into the polling chamber and started ransacking the booth. The incensed people also attacked the presiding officer Narendra Prasad Behera and other staff present in the booth while throwing the ballot box into a nearby pond.
Wrong folding of the ballot papers is said to be the reason that exasperated the villagers.
“After the closing hour for voting, we were going to seal the ballot box, just when some 50 to 100 people entered into the booth and started attacking us. They ransacked the furniture and decamped with the ballot box and other documents,” recounted presiding officer Narendra Prasad Behera.
Police reached the spot but failed in their attempts to pacify the enraged people. The irate people instead detained the police van. Later, administrative officers also reached the village to take stock of the situation.
Contacted, Bhadrak Sub-Collector Manoj Patra said, “Due to wrong folding of the ballot papers, several votes were wrongfully cast, particularly in case of Sarpanch post. The incident was immediately informed to the district Collector who asked us to go on with the polling for all the posts except for Sarpanch post. The same was also intimated to the polling officer.”
“However, angry people staged a roadblock demanding fresh poll at booth numbers - IV and V. We have recommended the same,” Patra added.