Five Odisha poll officials abducted by Maoists in Malkangiri

CRPF soldier injured in encounter with Maoists in Chhattisgarh

Bhubaneswar, Jan 13: Suspected Maoists on Friday were believed to have abducted five government officials engaged in the ensuing panchayat election process in Odisha, but the reports are unconfirmed, the state Home Secretary said.

The five poll officials were reportedly kidnapped by Maoists from five panchayats in Chitrakonda area of Malkangiri district bordering Andhra Pradesh. A villager was also taken away, reports said.

The police suspect that the abduction of the officials was an attempt to sabotage the panchayat elections in the district hit by Maoist insurgency. Panchayat elections in Odisha will begin from February 13 and conclude on February 21.

“Five officials had gone to the cut-off area to supervise panchayat poll-related work and to collect nomination papers. There is a rumour in the area that they may have been kidnapped. But, this is not all confirmed. The district collector and Director General of Police have been asked to confirm,” Home secretary Asit Tripathy said.

Director General of Police K.B. Singh said: “Five polling officers and one ex-Sarpanch are untraced. We are unable to establish communication with them. I’m not sure whether they are kidnapped or what is their status. We’ve sent our men there to get information.”