The Maoists struck on the eve of second phase election in Odisha, gunning down a woman poll officer and setting ablaze a poll vehicle on way to their booths on Wednesday, police said. Both the incidents occurred in Maoist affected Kandhamal district where the red rebels have asked the people to boycott the elections.
The ultras gunned down a woman polling officer when she was taking a team of poll personnel to a booth on the eve of second phase election, police said. Sector Officer Sanjukta Digal was shot dead when she got down from the vehicle to check a suspicious object lying on the road while passing through a jungle near Balandapada village under Gochhapada police station limits, DGP B K Sharma told PTI.
Other four polling personnel were in the vehicle and were unhurt. The incident occurred in Phulbani assembly segment under Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat where polling is scheduled to begin at 7 am on Thursday.
In the other incident, the rebels set ablaze a vehicle carrying election officials to a polling booth in a village in remote Phiringia police station area. Kandhamal district collector cum returning officer D Brunda said the initial report in this regard said armed Maoists in uniform asked the officials to get down from the vehicle before they set fire to it.
Police said all the official are safe but it was not clear what happened to poll materials like the EVMs. Police suspect that the KKBN (Kalahandi-Kandhamal- Boudh-Nayagarh) division of the CPI(Maoist) was involved in both the incidents.
A few days ago, the Maoists have put up posters and banners in the district asking the people to boycott the polls. Keeping in view the Maoist presence in Kandhanal district, the Election Commission has limited the polling time from 7 am to 4 pm in seven assembly segments in it.
Polling is being held for Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies simultaneously in the state. While the first phase voting was held on April 11, there are three more phases on April 18, 23 and 29..