Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 13:
Voting for the first phase of the three-tier panchayat polls in Odisha began today at 7 am at polling booths across the state.
The voting, held for 189 Zilla Parishad Members in 65 blocks spread over 29 of the 30 districts; 1506 Sarpanchs and Samiti Members; 20,369 Ward Members, continued till noon at 20,369 booths.
Security arrangements were put in place at sensitive booths especially in Kalahandi, Rayagada and Kandhamal in view of Maoist call for bandh and poll boycott.
Meanwhile, violence erupted on the poll day at several places. Kedar Baral, husband of a Sarpanch candidate, was injured in an attack by the opposition group at polling booth in Ghatakudi village under Brahmagiri block of Puri district. He sustained injuries on his head and was admitted to hospital.
On the other hand, a group clash ensued before casting of votes at Nrutanga panchayat in Mahanga area of Cuttack district. Police have detained a Samiti Member candidate and five others for questioning in connection with the incident.
Some unidentified persons allegedly set Jayram panchayat office in Nischintakoili block on fire. On being informed, fire personnel reached the spot and managed to douse the flames. Many important documents of the office have been damaged in the fire.
Voters of K Balipala panchayat in Hatadihi block of Keonjhar district boycotted the polls demanding fulfilment of their basic requirements.
Notably, the panchayat polls will be held in five phases – February 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21. Polling on each of these five days will start at 7 am and go on till 12 noon. Counting of votes are scheduled to begin from 1.00 pm.