Maoist fear affects polling teams

Bhubaneswar/Nuapada: Maoist fear has gripped the polling teams engaged in conduct of the on-going panchayat polls in the naxal affected districts of the state. Eighteen polling teams have taken shelter in Badkot High School in Nuapada district due to Maoist threats. The teams which started off from Komna were going to Sunabeda to conduct elections on Wednesday while they were waylaid by certain elements near Banakiamba forests who threatened with dire consequences. Uncertainty prevailed regarding conduct of polls.

Likewise, reports said that the Maoists have taken away some boats which were the only medium of communication to the remote parts of Chitrakonda in Malkangiri district. Doubts prevailed whether panchayat polls could be held on February 17 and February 19 in the remote parts of Chitrakonda. The recent killing of four BSF personnel including a Commandant too has created panic among the polling teams.

Nearly 1,350 panchayats spread across 79 blocks in 30 districts would go to the elections in the third phase on Wednesday. A total number of 53,88,664 voters would exercise their franchise in 188 Zilla Parishad Zones. The voting would take place in 1,968 booths spread over the state.

Meanwhile, the State Election Commission has ordered for re-poll in 32 booths in 11 panchayats under nine blocks in seven districts which witnessed different types of poll-related violent incidences like ballot-box loot and snatching of ballot papers. The re-polling would be held between February 17 to February 20.