Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Malkangiri, Jan 14:
After conflicting versions on kidnap of five poll officials in Odisha’s Malkangiri district yesterday, the abducted officials today claimed that they were in the captivity of the left wing extremists (LWE) and produced before a praja court (people’s court).
Of the five poll officials, two of them – gram panchayat technical assistants Praveen Soren and Kaminikanta Singh – have narrated their ordeal to media after their release, ending uncertainty over their fate.
“We were abducted while we were on duty at our respective panchayats. We were taken to a place near Gora Setu and produced before a praja court where around 20-22 Maoists were present. The ultras threatened us not to participate in the panchayat polls and asked us to go back,” Kaminikanta Singh told media.
Another kidnapped official Praveen Soren said: “The Maoists told me that whether it is police encounter or other issues, district administration has not reached out to people. The villagers have been deprived of the welfare schemes. They will not allow polls to be held in the region till the government benefits reach them.”
While the incident was reported yesterday that the officials were kidnapped by the rebels, Malkangiri SDPO Rahul PR had rejected the reports terming it as baseless and fake.
DIG (South-Western Range) S Saini today confirmed the reports after the two officials contacted her.
“I have received information from the two election officer that they were kidnapped. Apart from the duo, three more Gram Panchayat officials were also present. As per their information, they were taken to a place near Gora Setu yesterday morning and were freed at around 4.30 pm the same day. Others were on their way,” Saini said.
According to reports, K Bala from Panasput panchayat, SP Rajguru from Jantri panchayat, V Enkeiya from Gajalmamudi panchayat, Kaminikanta Singh from Jodaamba panchayat and Praveen Soren from Andrapalli panchayat were on poll duty in Chitrakonda block in the cut-off region of the district from where they were reportedly abducted.
It may be mentioned here that the Maoists had on January 10 warned the tribals of the district to abstain from the polls.
Maoist posters were found in Kudumulugumma in which the Malkangiri District Divisional Committee of the outlawed outfit had asked the tribals not to take part in the upcoming polls. The members of the outlawed group also warned that those who will contest in the elections would face death punishment at praja court.
The extremists further warned that thumbs of those casting their votes would be chopped off.