Odisha: Security tightened in Naxal areas for 3rd phase

Election staff inspect the boxes containing EVMs and other election material ahead of the third phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, at a distribution centre, in Bhubaneswar. (PTI Photo)

Naxal violence in the second phase has prompted authorities conducting the four-phased Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Odisha to strengthen security for the third phase of polling in Maoist infested areas.

Polling will be held in six Lok Sabha constituencies and 42 assembly segments in the third phase of polling in the state on Tuesday(April 23). The six Parliament seats are – Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal and Sambalpur.

Some pockets in three out of the six Lok Sabha seats – Keonjhar, Dhenkanal and Sambalpur - are considered Naxal infested. Official sources said the Superintendents of Police(SPs) of all the three districts had already been instructed to make adequate security arrangements in the Maoist hit areas.

In fact, in seven sensitive assembly constituencies under the three Lok Sabha seats the polling will be conducted between seven in the morning to four in the afternoon. In the rest of the areas, the timing of voting has been fixed between seven in the morning and six in the evening.

During the second phase of elections on April 18, one lady polling official was shot dead by armed Maoists in Naxal infested Kandhamal district. In another separate incident, the red rebels had also set a vehicle carrying the polling officials on fire. They had asked the polling party to come out of the vehicle before torching it.

Prominent leaders whose fate will be decided in the third phase of polling included BJD’s leader in the Lok Sabha Bhatruhari Mahtab and BJP national spokesperson, Sambit Patra. The two senior leaders are contesting from Cuttack and Puri Lok Sabha constituencies respectively. Besides, six senior ministers in the Naveen Patnaik led state cabinet would also be trying their luck in the third phase.

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