No one turned up to cast vote for panchayat polls in 13 booths in a gram panchayat under Korkonda block of Malkangiri district on Wednesday due to fear of Maoists, officials said. However, a large number of Bonda people, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG), made queues before polling booths in Khairput block of the district.
Officials said altogether 19 booths were set up amidst tight security in Nakamamudi gram panchayat in Korkonda for the panchayat polls, but 13 of them found no voters till the end of polling hours at 12 noon. In the remaining six booths, a very small number of people exercised their franchise, officials said.
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A villager, who did not cast his vote, said “We preferred not to vote fearing the Maoists. They would punish people who cast votes.” Maoist ultras have given a poll boycott call and pasted posters asking people to face consequences if they cast votes, officials said.
The State Election Commission has put on hold the panchayat elections in Chitrakonda block of Malkangiri district in the wake of Maoist threat.
Meanwhile, men and women of Bonda tribe cast their votes in Mudulipada and Andrahal gram panchayats of Khairput block. Bondas live in only two gram panchayats of Malkangiri. “We have stopped work to cast vote. We came to polling booths in order to give a signal to the government that Bondas still exist,” said Susma Sisa, a Bonda woman.
As the Bondas mostly live on hill tops, casting votes was an opportunity for them to make their existence felt, said a school teacher who teaches Bonda students.