Maoists kidnap 5 election officials ahead of panchayat polls in Odisha

Junior engineer Kaminikanta Singh along with the panchayat extension officers Prabin Soren, Purusottam Behera, Hrusikesh Nayak and Lingaraj Majhi had visited Pansaput panchayat on January 11.

Five election officials along with a villager have been allegedly kidnapped by the Maoists in Malkangiri district of Odisha on January 13 when there is hardly a month time left for the three-tier panchayat polls.

On January 11, all the five officials went to the Panasput panchayat in a stretch of 150-odd villages, sharing the border with Andhra Pradesh, to collect the nomination papers from the candidates contesting for different posts. The elections are likely to take place between February 13-21.

On this incident, the Odisha home secretary Asit Tripathy stated that junior engineer Kaminikanta Singh accompanied with the panchayat extension officers Prabin Soren, Purusottam Behera, Hrusikesh Nayak and Lingaraj Majhi had visited Pansaput panchayat on January 11 and are programmed to be back by January 18.

“The officials were supposed to come back by January 18 after completing the nomination and scrutiny process. On January 11, they were last contacted through a phone call at around 5:30 pm. But, as heard from the locals, there is a rumour that they have been abducted. They were instructed to inform every evening. By this evening, if we didn’t get any call from them, we will take necessary actions,” said home secretary Tripathi.

Along with these five officials, a local villager named Manoranjan Sisa was also kidnapped.

Previously this week, the CPI (Maoist) Malkangiri Divisional Committee had threatened the tribals to neither contest in the polls nor cast votes. The Maoists also warned the local tribals that if anybody found contesting polls or voting would be sentenced to death. The threat posters were put at several places in the village. The Maoists also asserted that all developmental works underway in blocks and panchayats be stopped.

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