PHULBANI: WITH roads being blocked by Maoists, polling parties in Kandhamal district had to trek for 15 km from their booths through the dangerous forest terrains under the shadow of the Naxals to safely deliver the EVMs and VVPAT machines at the district headquarters town on Friday.
The polling team of booth 12 at Barahala, where a woman polling supervisor Sanjukta Digal was gunned down by Maoists on Wednesday, was unable to return by road as the Naxals had blocked it by felling trees. The team comprising seven polling officers, three drivers and an observer had to stay back in the village for the night after polling ended.
On Friday morning, accompanied by 23 SOG jawans, they trekked 15 km through the hilly forest terrain to reach Baladapada police outpost from where they took a vehicle to reach Phulbani at 11 am.
In another incident, two polling parties comprising 14 polling officers of booth 137 in Sirla and 138 under Tumudibandh block had to walk through dense forests and cross streams under the cover of darkness to reach Baliguda on the wee hours of Friday. Following an intelligence input on possibility of Maoist attack after polling on Thursday, the CRPF personnel advised them not to travel by road in the evening. Along with the Central Forces, the polling teams began their journey on foot carrying EVMs and other polling materials through the forests at 9.30 pm and reached Tumudibandha block headquarters around 2.30 am.
From Tumudibandha the polling party along with the EVMs reached the strong room in Baliguda in two vehicles later in the day.
On Wednesday, besides killing Digal, Maoists had torched the vehicle of a polling party near Mungunipadar under Phringia police limits.