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Panchayat Elections: 5 Poll Officials, Ex-Sarpanch Go Missing in Maoist-hit Malkangiri

Malkangiri (Odisha): Five poll officials and an ex-sarpanch went missing Friday in Malkangiri district, where Maoists had told people to abstain from taking part in the upcoming panchayat elections.

“We have information that five panchayat election officers and another person are missing in the remote area of Chitrakonda in Malkangiri district… not sure whether they have been abducted,” DGP K B Singh said.

Asserting that efforts are on to get information aboutthe six missing persons, the officer said, “We are not able to establish contact with them at present. It is taking time as it is a remote area. We have sent our team to obtain information on the matter.”

To a query, the DGP said no demand or message have been received from the Maoists regarding the incident. Home Secretary Asit Tripathy said there are no information about the missing persons.

The five panchayat election officials had gone to the area on January 11 and were slated to return by January 18, he said, adding the last communication received from them was at 5.30 pm last evening.

The missing persons were election officers of Panasput,Jantri, Gajal Mamudi, Andrapalli and Jodamba panchayats and a former sarpanch of Jodamba, officials said.

Meanwhile, the state election commission has asked the Malkangiri district administration to give a report about the incident, a senior commission official said.

Sub-Divisional Police Officer (Malkangiri), Rahul P R said efforts are on to trace the missing persons and establish communication with them.

Sub-Collector of Malkangiri Virendra Karkare said Chitrakonda Tehsildar Falguni Majhi has been asked to ascertain the facts about the incident.

The incident took place as the process of filing nomination papers is on for the three-tier panchayat elections scheduled next month. The Maoists have warned the tribals of Malkangiri district to abstain from the poll.

Police had seized hand-written Maoist posters in Kudumulugumma about five days ago in which Malkangiri District Divisional Committee of Maoists asked people not to take part in the upcoming polls in any way.