Phulbani: A day before the second phase of elections, suspected Maoists gunned down a woman polling supervisor at Balandapara under Gochhapada tehsil in Kandhamal district on Wednesday. This is the first incident in Odisha where a polling staff personnel has been killed by Maoists.
The supervisor, Sanjukta Diggal, was hit in the head. The Maoist fired shots while the poll officials were waiting near their parked vehicle, suspecting landmines ahead.
Earlier in the day, suspected Maoists had torched a vehicle, carrying poll officials, in the district. Reports said the officials were headed for a booth in Mungunipadar under Phiringia police limits when the extremists stopped the vehicle and asked the polling staff to alight. As soon as they got off the vehicle, the extremists set it on fire.
A senior police officer told mediapersons that the polling staff personnel are safe and combing operations have been intensified to track down the extremists.
Recently, banners and posters had surfaced in the district in which the Maoists had urged the people to boycott the polls.
Talking to the media at the district headquarters hospital, Assistant Sector Officer Prakash Das said a four-member polling party including him and the deceased was on the way to a polling booth in a vehicle to know about the arrival of other polling staff personnel at the booth when the Maoists triggered a landmine blast at a little distance from the vehicle. “We got panicky after the incident and came out of the vehicle. As soon as we came out, the Maoists indiscriminately opened fire in which Sanjukta died on the spot. Later, we managed to return to the district headquarters with her body,” Das added.
The deceased was working as Gram Rojgar Sevak in Kandhamal district.
The body of the deceased was later brought to the district headquarters hospital for post mortem. There was no media briefing by the Kandhamal SP till reports last came in.