Maoists loot EVMs in Odisha; re-polling on cards

Maoists loot EVMs in Odisha; re-polling on cards

Maoists loot EVMs in Odisha; re-polling on cards

Stray incidents of looting of electronic voting machines (EVMs) by Maoists and death of a couple of elderly voters due to intense heat marked the first phase of polling in Odisha on Thursday.

Elections were held for 10 of 21 Lok Sabha and 70 out of 147 Assembly seats in the state in the first phase. The second phase of polling is scheduled to be held on April 17.
Armed Maoists raided four polling booths in the worst-hit Malkangiri district and looted the EVMs. However, they did not harm polling officials or voters. Similar incidents also took place in two areas of the neighbouring district of Koraput. Maoists had called for poll boycott in both districts.

Confirming the incidents, state’s Chief Electoral Officer Mona Sharma said, “Re-polling will be held in booths where the looting of EVMs has taken place.  Barring these stray incidents, voting across the state was by and large peaceful.” Meanwhile, a 70-year-old woman collapsed and died on the spot due to acute weather conditions.

She was walking towards a polling booth in western Odisha’s Bolangir district. Another 67-year-old woman too died in a similar manner in Patnagarh, in the same district. An intense heatwave has been sweeping across Bolangir for several days with the mercury hovering over 42 degree Celsius.

The average voter turnout across the state till 6 pm was 67 per cent. It was expected to go up further as many people were still in queue to exercise their franchise.

“Despite the heat, a large number of people turned up to vote and we are happy about that,” Sharma said.

Angul district recorded the highest voter turnout of 73 per cent. As expected, Maoist-hit Malkangiri recorded the lowest participation of 48.4 per cent.