Cuttack votes amid violence, poll boycott

Deprived of government benefits, earlier, the tribal voters had threatened to boycott the poll.
Voters wait in line to cast their vote
Voters wait in line to cast their vote(Photo | Express)

CUTTACK: Amid reports of violence, poll boycott and discontentment among voters due to irregularities and mismanagement at a few places, the six Assembly segments of Cuttack Parliamentary constituency recorded around 65.43 per cent voter turnout on Saturday.

The highest 73.70 per cent voter turnout was reported from Athagarh Assembly segment followed by 73 per cent in Banki, 70.23 per cent in Baramba, 67 per cent in Cuttack-Sadar, 56.46 per cent in Choudwar-Cuttack, and 55.17 per cent in Barabati-Cuttack Assembly segment by 11.30 pm.

Meanwhile, violence was reported from booth no 115 at Radhagovindpur in Athagarh Assembly segment with BJD and BJP workers engaging in a brawl when Agriculture Minister and BJD candidate Ranedra Pratap Swain reached the model polling station set up in his native village for exercising his franchise.

Sources said, while 40 to 50 workers entered the booth along with Swain, supporters of BJP opposed them and asked them to remain outside the booth alleging they were not voters of the concerned booth. This led to a heated exchange which soon turned violent with the groups assaulting each other by throwing chairs. At least four persons reportedly sustained injuries in the clash.

In another instance, all 815 tribal voters of Panchapada- Dholakatha, Dahanigadia, Pithakhia, Behenta Sahi and Nuakua, the villages locally known as Panchapada located within Chandaka-Damapada wildlife sanctuary under Banki Assembly segment boycotted the poll even as Dampada tehsildar Suchismita Nayak and BDO Ansuman Das made last ditch attempts to convince them to cast their votes in the afternoon. Deprived of government benefits, earlier, the tribal voters had threatened to boycott the poll.

In another instance, school students were reportedly engaged to advise voters not to carry mobile phones and guarding the polling station set up at Bidanasi Seva Sikshya Niketan in ward no 2 of

Cuttack Municipal Corporation which comes under Barabati-Cuttack Assembly segment.

ADM (Election) Shibo Toppo said as per guidelines of ECI, students aged between 14 and 18 years can only be engaged as volunteers to assist persons with disability in casting their votes. He said the matter would be looked into.

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The New Indian Express