The Kanjiramkulam police have booked 19 United Democratic Front (UDF) activists on the charge of ambushing a postman and stealing postal ballot papers printed for the local body polls from him.

The main accused are Sicily, UDF candidate in Nellikuzhy panchayat, and her husband's brother and fellow UDF activist Nellikuzhy Sasi (Kanjiramkulam police station crime 419/2010).

The police arrested Sasi on the charge of dacoity, assaulting a government officer on duty, destroying public property and violating the Kerala Panchayat Act. He was produced before the court and remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. The police said the other accused in the case were absconding.

The incident occurred at around 12.30 p.m. The police said UDF activists led by Sicily waylaid postman Sreejith when he went to deliver the postal ballot papers issued in the name of one Lal and Alvin Joseph. The gang stole a total of 44 ballot papers from the official and damaged his cycle.

In the evening, Congress mandalam president Sivakumar returned the stolen ballot papers to Circle Inspector of Police, Poovar, K. Suresh Kumar. Mr. Kumar recorded the return of the ballot papers in the police “mahasar” and retrieved the documents as evidence in the case.

The incident led to a tense stand off between Left Democratic Front (LDF) and UDF activists in the locality. Police force had been deployed in strength at Nellikuzhy to prevent any escalation of violation. The local police held talks with leaders of both the fronts in an attempt to defuse the situation.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) condemned the incident and termed it as a “fascist act.” In a press release here, the CPM district secretary accused the Congress of striving hard to upset the poll process. He said the incident was a blot on the country's parliamentary and democratic tradition. Faced with the prospect of a humiliating defeat in the local body polls, the UDF was acting in a paranoiac fashion, he alleged.