70 pc turnout in 4th phase of panchayet polls

Bhubaneswar: Over 70 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in the fourth phase of panchayat polls in state today which witnesed stray incidents of violence and booth capturing in some places.

"An estimated 70.66 per cent of the 46.47 lakh electorate voted in the fourth phase of panchayat elections," state Election Commissioner Ajit Tripathy told reporters here.

Jagatsinghpur and Gajapati districts registered the maximum voter turnout of 78 per cent, while Keonjhar district recorded the minimum 61 per cent polling.

The fourth phase of polling was held for 174 zilla parishad zones and 1,151 gram panchayats. The elections for the last phase are slated to be held on February 19.

Polling passed off by and large peacefully barring stray incidents of violence and attempted booth capturing in districts like Cuttack, Nayagarh, Jajpur and Kendrapara.

In Ganjam district the body of a 58-year-old man was recovered from Tulasipalli in Diha Padhal gram panchayat under Bhanjanagar area.

The deceased was identified as Dandapani Bisoi, father of Manoranjan Bisoi, one of the accused persons, arrested in connection with the murder of Lalu Gouda, son of a candidate for Sarpanch post in Diha Padhal.

However, police was not certain whether Dandapani was killed in poll related violence when a mob went on rampage in the village after the death of Lalu yesterday.

In remote and Maoist-hit Malkangiri district, people belonging to Konda Reddy community boycotted the election in three booths in Kalimela area protesting non-fulfilment of tribal status to them, official sources said.

In Sundargarh district people in Sagarpally in Mangeshpur gram panchayat in Tangarpally block boycotted polls, demanding their place be declared a revenue village.

Bari and Jajpur blocks in Jajpur district witnessed incidents of violence, booth capturing and snatching of ballot boxes, sources said.

Miscreants snatched ballot boxes from 7 booths in Golkund?panchayat under the Bari block and dumped them in nearby ponds. They also snatched ballot boxes from two booths of Ratalanga under the same block in the district and dumped them in a well.

Miscreants snatched ballot boxes from two booths in Jahanpur and Chhatis Debil of Jajpur block. Loot of ballot papers was also reported from two booths in Bandhapada and Nurupur panchayat of Bari block.