Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Malkangiri, Apr 18:
According to a belated report, a group of armed Maoists abducted a team of polling officials in the cut-off area of Chitrakonda in Odisha’s Malkangiri district on Thursday afternoon but released them later with a warning.
The incident came to light when the polling team revealed this to the media after reaching the district headquarters on Thursday night.
According to reports, the team had gone to conduct repolling in the 15 booths in Chitrakonda where the polling was disrupted by the Maoists during the first phase polls on April 10.
After the polling got over at 3 PM, the polling team despatched electronic voting machines (EVMs) in a helicopter and boarded a motor launch for Chitrakonda on their way back to the district headquarters.
As soon as the launch arrived at Kunturapadar village on the banks of the Chitrakonda reservoir, a group of armed Maoists asked them to get down and follow them.
The team members were then taken to a forested area where they were produced before a kangaroo court in which nearly a hundred armed ultras took part.
The Maoists grilled the poll officials with a volley of questions in presence of their leaders Rukdhar and Udaya and asked them how they dared to venture into the area despite their call to the people to boycott the elections.
Later, they asked one of the team members to write a letter to the district collector as dictated by them.
The letter contained 7-point charter of demands of the Maoists including improvement in education and health services, solution of land related problems and drinking water supply, end to the ongoing victimisation and arrest of innocent tribals by branding them as Maoists and the immediate release of arrested tribal people from jail.
In the letter, the Maoists have also asked the district administration to stop engaging the teachers in non-teaching jobs such as election duty. The draft letter was then signed by Maoist leader Rukdhar.
The team was finally let off by the Maoists after an hour and was asked to deliver the letter to the district collector.