Beyond call of duty: Odisha polling officials walk 15 kms to protect EVMs from Maoists

Phulbani/Patnagarh: In a bid to protect the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPAT machines, a polling party walked for 15 kilometres in a dense forest to reach Balandapada Police outpost in Naxal-infested Kandhamal district today.

Their journey began from Barala, where Maoists had gunned down polling official Sanjukta Digal day before yesterday. As trees had fallen and obstructed the road near Barala, the polling party was unable to return in their vehicle after the voting for the second phase polls concluded yesterday. With the help of 23 security personnel, 11 members of the polling party and the vehicle driver reached the outpost today.

In another incident, polling officials engaged at booth no-137 and 138 in Sirla panchayat under Baliguda Assembly constituency of Kandhamal district travelled on foot for 15 kilometres to reach Baliguda today. When voting concluded late in the evening yesterday, the polling officials were stranded at their booths in those Maoist-affected areas. Later CRPF jawans reached the booths and brought the polling officials to Tumudibandha. After spending the night at a CRPF camp, the polling officials reached Baliguda with EVMs today.

Meanwhile, polling parties engaged at Naxal infested Sunamudi, Bartia, Rengali and Brahmani villages under Patnagarh Assembly constituency of Bolangir district were brought to Jawaharlal College in Patnagarh today amid high security cover provided by CRPF jawans.