MALKANGIRI: Regardless of the multi-pronged security arrangements put in place by the police, at least 12 booths including 10 hyper-sensitive ones in Swabhiman Anchala here witnessed zero polling due to Maoist threat that looms large in the area. The rebels had earlier threatened to chop off the hands of voters who defy their poll boycott call.
All the nine booths of Swabhiman Anchala reported zero polling. These are Jodamba-I and II, Andrapalli, Jantri, Sanyasiguda, Handikhal, Panasput, Singoi and Gurasetu under Chitrakonda block. The booths had been shifted to Kunturpadar BSF base camp for security reasons.
Polling officials of the nine booths were airlifted from Malkangiri BSF sector headquarters and dropped at Kunturpadar BSF base camp. Amid tight security arrangements put in place by the BSF, presiding officers conducted mock-polling at a revised time schedule of 5.30 am on the day in their respective make-shift polling stations in absence of polling agents.
Later, sealing of the Control Unit and VVPAT machines were done by the officials as per the procedure laid down by the ECI. However, no voters turned up till completion of voting at 4.00 pm, thereby leaving polling officials disappointed.
One more booth, Tentapalli at Badpada under Swabhiman Anchala, also reported zero polling. Similarly, no voters turned up at two booths (No 7 and 8) in Chaulmendi under Maithili block.
Notably, the Maoists have been spearheading a poster campaign in the erstwhile cut-off region since February this year urging voters of Swabhiman Anchala to boycott polling as the Government has done nothing for the belt and its inhabitants.
A villager of the cut-off region, on conditions of anonymity, said, “We are too scared. If we go against the wishes of the Maoists, who will protect us from their?”