Maoist threat keeps hundreds in Orissa away from polls

April 16th, 2009 - 6:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, April 16 (IANS) Hundreds of villagers in two Orissa districts Thursday stayed away from the elections due to the poll-boycott threat by Maoists who attacked four polling stations and burnt several voting machines during the first phase of ballotting in the state, officials said.
Maoists gave a call to boycott polls across the state and even threatened to chop off the hands of people who go to cast their votes.

“In at least seven polling stations, nobody came to cast votes in our district,” Satyabrata Bhoi, Malkangiri district police chief, told IANS. Malkangiri is considered a Maoist stronghold in the state.

Reports reaching here suggest that people in several villages of neighbouring Rayagada district also did not cast their votes. Rayagada is another Maoist-dominated region.

Malkangiri has recorded 35 percent voting, while in Rayagada it was 44 percent, officials said.

In the first phase of elections, voting was held for 10 Lok Sabha seats and 70 assembly constituencies in Orissa. The next phase in the state will be held April 23.

The Maoist rebels attacked four polling centres - three in Malkangiri district and one in Sundargarh district.

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