Violence shadows polling in final phase

 BJP and BJD workers clash at many places; re-polling demanded in some booths

Published: 30th April 2019 06:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th April 2019 10:30 AM   |  A+A-

BJP candidate for Balasore Parliamentary constituency Pratap Sarangi waiting in queue at a booth on Monday. A woman holds her child as she waits to cast her vote at a polling station in Badatubi village in Kendrapara district I Express

By Express News Service

The final phase of General Elections in Odisha saw violent clashes and booth rigging in many Assembly segments. Glitches in EVMs and VVPATs also delayed voting hours in many booths across the Kendrapara, Jagastinghpur, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Balasore and Bhadrak Lok Sabha constituencies and 41 Assembly segments under them.

65 pc polling in booths under Cuttack district

Even as enthusiastic voters turned out in large numbers to exercise their franchise during the  fourth phase of General Elections, the process was marred by EVM snags and violence in three Assembly segments of Cuttack district.Braving scorching heat, voters in large numbers exercised their franchise in Salepur, Mahanga  Assembly segments of Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency and Niali Assembly segment of  Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha constituency.“The average turnout for General Elections at 826  polling stations across the district is 65 pc and it may exceed by another three to four pc as final reports come in”, said  Deputy Collector (Election) Ranjita Sahu.

Violence and EVM and VVPAT glitches delayed polling in over 25 booths. There was clash between  BJD and BJP workers in booth no 242 at Ratilo under Salepur Assembly segment over allegations of  some workers influencing voters. Two BJP workers suffered injuries after being allegedly attacked  by BJD workers and an FIR has been filed in Kissan Nagar police station in this regard. Polling was disrupted for more than three hours in booth 135 at Patrakana under Niali Assembly segment following a scuffle between BJP and BJP poll agents. The BJP agent Ramesh Chandra Sahu and his brother Ramesh Sahu, who were injured in the attack, have lodged complaints against BJD agent and some workers.
Similarly, in booth 210 at Sukarpada UGME School under Mahanga Assembly segment, a BJD-backed Panchayat Samiti member and his supporters allegedly attacked BJP workers and also manhandled journalists of a news channel during BJP Kendrapara Lok Sabha candidate Baijayant Panda’s visit to the booth.

In another incident, two Government officials who had come to vote after cancellation of their poll duty were deprived of casting their vote in booths 204 and 205 at Raisunguda under Salepur Assembly segment. The polling officers at the booths informed them that their votes have already been cast through postal ballots. “Who cast our vote?” questioned 50-year-old voter Prabhakar Pradhan of Raisunguda, who works as a fourth grade employee in Sukleswar Girls High School. The officers urged the Election Commission to probe into the matter.

Booth rigging, violence in Kendrapara, Jajpur

Violence marred polling in Kendrapara. Tension ran high in a polling booth at Singiri village under Aul Assembly when some miscreants indulged in booth rigging. In Firikidandi village under Rajnagar Assembly seat, supporters of Congress and BJD clashed with each other. Police rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.

Alleging rigging, the Congress candidate Debendra Sharma from Aul Assembly seat demanded re-polling in nine booths under the segment. He alleged that the Congress workers were thrown out of the booth by BJD supporters and the latter then cast multiple votes. Sharma  urged the Chief Election Officer  to conduct re-polling in these booths.

There was 65 pc voters turnout in the district till 6 pm. Voting continued in some booth past 8 pm, said Sanjay Mishra, Sub-Collector of Kendrapara.

In Jajpur, polling was marred by stray incidents of violence at different places while the Collector suspended two polling officials for neglecting their duty. According to police reports, BJP workers allegedly broke an EVM in Chormuhan under Dharmasala segment while EVM did not function in two more places. A BJP member Gobinda Sethi was attacked allegedly by ruling party supporters when he protested irregularities in voting in the booth. A local samiti member has been detained for ransacking the EVM.

Violence was reported in Sukinda seat where irate Congressmen allegedly attacked local sarpanch. In the evening, the BJD candidate from Korei segment was attacked by unknown miscreants. A police case has been registered. The district reported 66 pc polling by 6 pm.Collector suspended presiding officer of a booth in Binjharpur, Baikunthanath Mallick for supporting ruling party candidates during polling. A polling officer in Sukinda booth, J Prusty was also suspended for asking people to vote for BJD candidates.

Gruelling wait under the sun

Technical snags in EVMs and the sweltering heat made polling a difficult exercise for voters in  Jagatsinghpur. In the absence of shade in many booths, voters had to wait outside the polling  booths under the scorching sun to cast their votes.

In booth no 135 under Balikuda-Erasama Assembly constituency, people had to wait for an hour to  vote as the EVMs malfunctioned. EVM snags were also reported in booth 61 in Tarapur village  under Tirtol Assembly segment, booths 118 and 119 in Rasulpur School under Jagatsinghpur  segment. In many other booths, voters had to return disappointed as they could not cast vote due  to delay in voting due to glitches in EVMs and heatwave. The VVPAT machine at pink booth no 71  at SK Academy malfunctioned during the polling process. A voter Sk Kareem of Lalsahi said he had  to wait from 9 am to 11 am at the booth to exercise his franchise but he could not do so as polling  officials delayed repairing of the VVPAT. Many elderly persons who were waiting outside the pink  booth were affected by the delay.

Presiding officer of the booth Sanjukta Lenka, however, refuted the allegation and said voters  were asked to sit in the rest room and water was provided to them while the VVPAT was being  repaired. She said there was no paper roll in the machine which is why it malfunctioned.Due to the heat wave, many voters turned up at booths in the morning and evening. The  presiding officer of booth 206 under Jagatsinghpur Assembly segment fell unconscious due to heat  exhaustion.

Voting delayed by 2 hours

Polling in Kakatpur and Nimapara Assembly segments under the Jagatsinghpur Parliamentary  constituency was peaceful except EVM glitches that slowed down the process.In Nimapara, voters in a booth alleged that the polling officials were promoting a political party.

In Kakatpur segment, 34 EVMs did not function and voting was delayed by over two hours. Voting continued till late in the evening. There was a rise in the number of women voters this time. Returning officer for both the  constituencies informed that by 6 pm, Nimapara had registered 66 pc polling while it was 64.37 pc  in Kakatpur.

Elections to Mayurbhanj Parliamentary constituency and seven of its Assembly segments passed off peacefully. More than 66 pc voter turnout was reported in the district. The Bhadrak Parliamentary constituency and Assembly segments under it recorded voting percentage of 71 pc. Due to defective EVMs, polling was delayed in 28 booths including 13 under Bhadrak Assembly segment, 13 in Dhamnagar and one each in Bhandaripokhari and Chandabali.

Problem Areas

Violence, EVM and VVPAT glitches delayed polling in over 25 booths in Cuttack district. There was  clash between BJD and BJP workers in booth no 242 at Ratilo under Salepur Assembly segment  over allegations of some workers influencing voters.
Tension ran high in a polling booth at Singiri village under Aul Assembly when some miscreants  indulged in booth rigging. In Firikidandi village under Rajnagar Assembly seat, supporters of  Congress and BJD clashed with each other.
BJP members allegedly ransacked an EVM in Chormuhan under Dharmasala segment while EVM  did not function in two more places in Jajpur district.
Violence was reported in Sukinda seat where irate Congressmen allegedly attacked a woman local  sarpanch.


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