Maoists release 12 Odisha govt employees in Malkangiri after 2 days
Though the polling booths were close to the camp of the BSF in Kuntarpadar, not a single voter turned up to vote fearing the warnings by the Maoists asking people to boycott polls like previous elections.Updated: Apr 12, 2019 15:47 IST
Maoists released 12 employees of Odisha government’s water resource department in Malkangiri district on Friday, two days after they were abducted and a day after Lok Sabha election was held in the area.
Officials said the employees and the four motorboats were detained in Jantri and Sindhiput areas. While one motorboat was released early on Friday, the three others were released later in the day. The released motorboats carried posters urging people to boycott the Lok Sabha election 2019.
Malkangiri’s superintendent of police Jagmohan Meena said the Maoists in Swabhiman Anchala had detained the operators of the four motor launches on Wednesday at Jantri ferry point, a day before the district went to polls. Malkangiri district with two assembly constituencies falls under Nabarangpur Lok Sabha constituency.
“As the Maoists had issues poll boycott warning, they did not want the motor launches to carry any polling personnel. Once the polling got over, they released the drivers and other employees of the launches without causing any physical harm to them,” said Meena.
The water resource department’s Balimela earth dam division runs four motor launches to connect the over 25,000 people living in 151 villages of Swabhiman Anchala(erstwhile cut-off area) with the mainland Malkangiri. The area was cut off in the 1970s when vast tracts of forest land and villages were submerged by the reservoir of Balimela Hydropower Project in Chitrakonda area of Malkangiri.
Though a bridge over river Gurupriya was constructed last year, many parts of the area such as Panasput, Jantri and Jodamba panchayats can be reached only after riding on the motor launches that travel 62km from the Balimela ferry point.
Earlier, polling officials along with security men for nine polling booths in the Swabhiman Anchala were air-dropped inside the cut-off area. Though the polling booths were close to the camp of the Border Security Force (BSF) in Kuntarpadar, not a single voter turned up to vote fearing the warnings by the Maoists asking people to boycott polls like previous elections.
But despite the threat, Malkangiri district recorded 72.5% polling on Thursday, better than that reported in the last election in 2014.
First Published: Apr 12, 2019 15:45 IST