Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Malkangiri, Jan 13:

Maoists reportedly kidnapped four panchayat poll officials from Chitrakonda block of Odisha’s Malkangiri district today.

kidnapped poll officials

According to reports, the red rebels abducted the officials from separate panchayats who were waiting in their offices to receive nomination papers of candidates on the third day of filing nomination.

The abductees were identified as Purusottam Behera, Hrushikesh Naik, Praveen Soren and Kaminikanta Singh.

Maoists have also kidnapped one Manoranjan Sisa, son of Jodaamba village head Laxman Sisa.

Another poll official Lingaraj Majhi, who was earlier suspected to have been kidnapped by the Maoists, was not present at his office when the extremists arrived there as he had gone to a nearby pond after attending nature’s call. On being informed by villagers that the ultras are searching for him at the office, Majhi went into hiding. He later went to the Kudumulugumma block office to meet the BDO.

“Five polling officers and one ex-sarpanch are untraced. We are not able to establish communication with them. I am not sure whether they have been kidnapped or not. We have sent our teams to get information in this regard,” said DGP KB Singh.

The State Election Commission has sought a report from Malkangiri collector over the incident, said Azad Hind Panigrahi, Deputy Secretary of the commission.

Meanwhile, the Maoists informed Kanak News, our sister concern, that they have kidnapped the officials. They will not be harmed, the Maoists said.

Reports said, the abductees were produced before praja court at Similipadar village in the cut-off areas of Chitrakonda.

Notably, the Maoists had earlier warned the tribals of the district to abstain from the polls.

Also read: Abstain from polls or face death punishment, Maoists warn tribals.

Some Maoist posters were spotted in Kudumulugumma here in which the Malkangiri District Divisional Committee of the outlawed outfit had asked the tribals not to take part in the upcoming polls