SEC issues directive for safety of polling parties

Bhubaneswar:  In the wake of violence in the ongoing panchayat elections including instances in which polling parties are attacked in some places of the State, the State Election Commission (SEC) on Tuesday issued guidelines for the safety of polling parties.

In a communiqué issued to all Collectors and Superintendents of Police (SPs) the SEC said adequate steps should be taken to ensure that the polling party returns to the Block Headquarters with police escorts.

Citing that ballot papers and ballot boxes were snatched in some places by miscreants during return journey of the polling parties after conducting the poll in respective wards yesterday, the Commission said that the polling party instead of coming on their own shall be escorted by the  Sector Officer with an armed guard and the police mobile parties.

“In order to ensure safety of the polling party and polling materials, the presiding officer shall be asked not to leave the polling station without proper security,” the letter read.

“The polling parties preferably should return in group,” it further stated.

The Commission stressed that all the sector officers/executive magistrates/ mobile police parties/ senior administrative and police officers shall monitor safe return of the polling parties and polled materials.

“Strict vigil shall be maintained on the post-poll violence and prompt action shall be taken to ward off these incidents,” the Commission said.

Yesterday, at least six polling officials were detained by villagers in Sambalpur under Kundei police limits of Nabarangpur district. Reports also suggested the cops who went to rescue the officials were also beaten up by the irate villagers who alleged impartial election in their area. A police vehicle was also reportedly damaged in the melee.

In Kendrapara district, miscreants had looted ballot box from booth number 14 in Jagdalpur village under Patkura panchayat and threw it in Chitrotpala River.

Similarly the ballot boxes from booth number 12 and 14 in Bangalpur panchayat of the district were looted, broken into pieces and ballot papers were taken away. In Ramchandrapur panchayat, after the end of polling in eight booths, miscreants looted ballot box from the polling party vehicle and set it on fire.