Bhubaneswar, Feb 18:

Security has been beefed up across Odisha for the fourth phase of panchayat polls scheduled to be held on Sunday.

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A total of 50,61,974 people would exercise their franchise in the fourth phase panchayat polls for 1,324 panchayats; 18,876 Ward Members and 162 Zilla Parishad (ZP) zones in 28 districts.

“The district collectors and SPs have been instructed to hold panchayat polls peacefully. To ensure no threat to the polling parties, they have been given specific instruction to provide armed police force to accompany each polling party for their arrival at their respective booths,” said State Election Commission (SEC) Secretary Rabindranath Sahu.

He said extra security measures have been taken in the Maoist affected districts.

Notably, poll related violence has been reported at several places in the state in the last couple of days.

Director General of Police (DGP) K.B. Singh said all possible steps are being taken to prevent any untoward incident during the polls.

He said additional police force are deployed in sensitive and hyper-sensitive booths.

The panchayat polls are being held in five phases across the state. While elections for three phases have already completed, fourth phase election will be held on February 19 and fifth phase on February 21. (IANS)