Malkangiri,13/04/19:The first phase polls in Odisha not only covered difficult terrains, but also some of the most deadly areas which are infested by Left Wing Extremism. Polling officials in Malkangiri have set an example by remaining unfazed in the face of danger and performing their duty of upholding the sanctity of the election process to the hilt.
The case in point being a group of 36 polling officials who had to travel 15 kms on foot while returning from their designated booths in the Maoist-infested Mudulipada area of Malkangiri district. The main challenge for them was to ensure the safety of the EVMs.With threat of a Maoist ambush looming large, the officials had to walk rather than take a vehicle which could have been an easy target of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
“We walked with the SOG jawans. The conditions were difficult but the jawans kept us motivated,” a polling officer said.
The officials reportedly walked for 15 Km through the dense forest areas at an altitude of 1,000 feet above sea level to bring back the EVM safely to the Collector’s office.
“We are very scared but somehow we managed to walk 14 to 15 km and reached our destination at around 5 am in the morning,” another polling officer said.
Maoists had called for a poll boycott in the area and so the risk involved in putting up EVMs and VVPATs as well as transferring them back to the collector’s office was huge, but a job perfectly carried out by the officials.
“We took a lot of risk to complete our work. The SOG jawans kept our spirit up and helped us to stay safe. They probably received some intelligence and so we had to halt in between. It started raining while we were sleeping. We managed to save the EVMs by covering them with tarpaulin,” said a polling officer.
Chief Electoral Officer(CEO) Surendra Kumar said, ” The polling officers conducted the voting process very smoothly for which we are grateful to them.”
DGP in-charge Bijay Kumar Sharma said, “It was big challenge to conduct elections in Maoist affected areas but it has been conducted properly.”