KORAPUT/JEYPORE: Returning to its old ways, Andhra Pradesh has started meddling in the affairs of Kotia in a bid to sabotage the ensuing panchayat elections.While AP-backed miscreants are heckling candidates in the disputed panchayat, officials of the neighbouring State have sought poll data from Pottangi block authorities.
On Monday, a police team led by Salur circle inspector D Rahini came to Pottangi block office and sought details of the candidates, voter list and number of seats in Kotia. The AP police claimed that the data was required to maintain law and order situation in Kotia during the election.
However, the block authorities turned down their request and advised them to approach Koraput district administration through proper channel for such information. The police team had to return empty handed.
Confirming the incident, Pottangi BDO SS Mishra said, “Salur police came to us for information on polling in Kotia. But we refused to entertain their request. Only the higher officials of Koraput administration have the authority to provide election data.”
Koraput Collector Md Abdaal Akhtar said AP police should not bother about the law and order situation in Kotia. Odisha Police will look after the affairs in Kotia as the panchayat is an integral part of the State.
On Sunday, AP agents had confronted candidates campaigning at Phatusenari village in Kotia. Sources said Independent candidate from Zilla Parishad (ZP) zone 1 Tikkai Gamel and outgoing Kotia sarpanch and also a nominee Biswanath Khilo were canvassing for votes at Phatuseneri when a group of AP supporters along with agent Bisu Pangi heckled them.
Following the incident, Gamel urged the district election officer to intervene in the matter and provide protection to candidates during campaigning in Kotia villages.A couple of days back, AP officials had also distributed record of rights of forest land in Ganjaipadar village to lure villagers towards their side. Besides, AP has engaged personnel to record health details of villagers in Phagusenari.
Sources said in the last two days, AP-sponsored agents and officials of Salur block in Vizianagaram district are frequenting several villages in Kotia to disrupt the election process in the bordering panchayat.
In wake of the incursions, the district administration has asked police to monitor the activities of outsiders in Kotia.