Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara/ Bhubaneswar, Apr 24:
The 109 non-bailable warrants (NBW) that were supposed to be issued and executed against polling officials who committed a sacrilege of sorts by skipping duty on the voting day on April 17 have been shelved by the administration in Odisha’s politically volatile Kendrapara district for reasons difficult to fathom.
What makes the administration’s dithering over the issuance and execution of the NBWs raise suspicion in the minds of the people is the fact that as many as 54 of these 109 errant officials were posted for duty at the politically charged Mahakalpada constituency, where the senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra was grappling with both the BJD and a hostile administration which was allegedly keen on his defeat.
On the polling day, the district collector Nitin B Jawale had announced that he had recommended the issuance of NBWs against 54 polling officials who skipped their duty in the Mahakalpada Assembly constituency. Later in the evening he added 55 more names to the list.
Surprisingly, seven days later the SP of the district says he has not received any such instructions with regard to the issue of NBWs from the collector.
“Police are yet to be communicated the order. The arrest warrant would be executed with due process of law once we receive the list,” said the SP of Kendrapara, Rabi Narayan Behera.
When asked about the delay in carrying out disciplinary action against the polling officials for such serious breach of discipline, the collector came up with a rather trite explanation saying the list would be dispatched to the police after the scheduled re-poll in a booth in the Aul Assembly constituency gets over.
People in Kendrapara suspect that the announcement made by the administration about NBWs being issued against 109 polling official was an eyewash designed to suppress the truth about how the poll process was conducted at the all-important Mahakalpara constituency.
Reports say the 54 polling officials who were shown as absent on the day of polling were physically present and available to their reporting officers on both April 16 and 17. In fact some of them say they were mighty surprised when they came to know of the NBWs against them from newspaper reports.
That makes the entire matter murky and mysterious and calls for a high-level probe by senior officials from other states deputed by the Election Commission of India, said a senior Kendrapara lawyer known to be a sympathizer of the Congress.
“ We suspect the administration is scared of taking action against the polling officials because they will spill the beans and expose the nasty and illegal role played by them in the election. They think they will get away with it because people forget things too quickly. But we would not let that happen,” he said.