Maoists tried to use violent means to disrupt polling in some remote pockets of Malkangiri district

Except few incidents of disruption in Maoist infested areas and poll boycott in some villages, polling was almost peaceful in south Odisha on Thursday. Poll boycott by voters was reported from Chikili village under Hinjli assembly segment, where the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is contesting from here again after three wins in a row. This village has around 1,130 voters and most of them did not vote alleging lack of development in their area. Reports of similar poll boycott have come in from Khanadagaon village under Mohana assembly segment in Gajapati district and Hatiguda village under Boudh assembly segment of Boudh district. In Kavisuryanagar assembly segment of Ganjam district, sarpanch of Gama panchayat Satyabadi Sahu (55) was attacked by sharp weapons by some miscreants near a booth at Saradhapur. Apart from it polling was almost peaceful in Ganjam, the home district of the CM, from where three State ministers are also contesting.

Maoists had given a call for poll boycott as well as a bandh call in Koraput, Kandhamal, Rayagada and Gajapati districts on the day of polling on Thursday. But it had little impact on the voters. But fear of violence by the extremists surely had some effect in Malkangiri district, the most Maoist hit area of Odisha, where the average polling was reported to be 55 per cent. But in other naxalite infested areas voters came out in large numbers to vote. As per initial reports voting in Koraput and Nabarangpur districts was around 70 per cent, 60 per cent in Rayagada district with no reports of disruption of polling due to Maoist menace. Polling was held till 4 p.m. in all Maoist prone areas instead of till 6 p.m..

Despite tight security arrangements Maoists had tried to use violent means to disrupt polling process in some extremely remote pockets of Malkangiri district. There are chances of re-polling in eight booths of Malkangiri district due to it. On Wednesday night a truck carrying EVM for four booths in Mahupadar area under Mathili police station was torched by miscreants suspected to be naxalites. Apart from it there are reports that the EVM of Polsari booth under Mathili police station limits were snatched away by miscreants and EVMs of three booths of Jodamba area of cut off area of Balimela reservoir were damaged by miscreants related to Maoist organisation.

In Koraput district, one EVM was looted at Pujariput under Baipariguda police station limits and another EVM was snatched away by miscreants at Madkar under Pottangi police station. Except these two incidents polling continued peacefully all over the district even in Maoist prone pockets like Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks. Polling was also peaceful in Maoist infested areas of Gajapati and Kandhamal districts without any major untoward incidents. No case of violent mischief by Maoists was also reported from Sunabeda sanctuary in Nuapada district.

In Berhampur, people of all walks of life continued voting with much enthusiasm since start of polling at 7 a.m. Some voters however complained that they could not vote as they could not locate their name in the list at the polling booths although they had voter identity cards.