MALKANGIRI: Ensuring free and fair elections in the difficult terrains of Bonda Hills under Khairput block was an uphill task for 36 polling officials and SOG jawans. Owing to Maoist threat, they had to trek down for 15 km carrying heavy EVMs, VVPAT machines and other election materials from six polling booths to Khairput. From Khairput, they were carried in a vehicle to Malkangiri on Friday where they returned the EVMs.
The polling officials were deployed at six booths of Andrahal, Mudulipada and Badural panchayats in Khairput block under Chitrakonda Assembly segment, which had come up in Mudulipada High School in Bonda Hills.
After polling was closed at 4 pm, the officials were waiting for vehicles to take them to Malkangiri when security personnel suggested them to walk till Khairput instead of travelling in a vehicle to avert any possible Maoist attack. Intelligence inputs had pointed to a possible attack.
Accompanied by SOG jawans, the officials trekked for one hour but had to stop when it turned dark. Braving thunderstorm, lightning and rain, they decided to halt in the forest and wrapped the EVMs, VVPAT machines and polling materials in polythene and tarpaulin sheets.
They began trekking again on Friday morning and after walking for 15 km and four hours through hilly terrains, they reached Khairput at about 9 am. “There was no other option for us than following the orders of security personnel”, said polling officer Mana Govind Sena. His colleague Samal Kumar Routray added that it was an experience he will remember forever. The Bonda Hills recorded a good turnout of voters on Thursday.
Re-polling likely in Malkangiri
Re-polling is likely to be held in booth 254 at MPV-65 village under Tigal panchayat limits in Kalimela block.Irate voters had damaged EVM on Thursday alleging that the polling was conducted by officials in the booth without following the mandatory CRC (close, result and clear) procedure after completion of mock polling. As per the ECI guidelines, the presiding officer of the booth has to follow the CRC procedure before commencement of the actual polling once the mock polling is over. Returning Officer Rameswar Pradhan as voters of the booth ransacked the EVM, the Election Commission of India would take a final call on repolling.Malkangiri Assembly segment had recorded 75.48 per cent polling and it was 68.217 pc in Chitrakonda segment.