Monday, April 13, 2009

Naxals issue warning to voters

Express News Service First Published : 13 Apr 2009 10:20:50 AM ISTLast Updated : 13 Apr 2009 02:39:44 PM IST

JEYPORE: Naxals have upped ante against elections warning the people in Malkangiri district that their hands will be chopped off if they exercise franchise in the ensuing elections. A fine of Rs 5,000 will be slapped on each of them in ‘people’s court’, the Maoists have warned.

The latest threat came close on heels of the gory murder of Samruddha Odisha candidate Somnath Madkami near Kalimela.

Though Naxal mayhem is the order of the day in tribal areas of Malkangiri since 1985 and the government had a tough job conducting as many as seven elections during this period, this time Naxal violence has touched a new high causing concern among the civilians as well as administrative officials.

After the declaration of dates for elections, Naxals have struck with alarming regularity in the area. The district has witnessed three murders, three devastating explosions and a loot of Rs 1 crore in past few days giving sleepless nights to all.

The diabolical murder of Madkami by Naxals has worsened the situation. In the past elections, though the Naxals had called boycott of polls, loots and attacks on candidates were hardly seen.

The threat perception is quite high this time. It is common to see banners and posters of Naxals in the tribal belt with poll boycott threats despite deployment of central forces.

A sense of fear has gripped villagers in Kalimela, Chitrokonda, Podia and Motu. ‘‘Why should we put our lives in danger by casting votes,’’ asked Guru Muduli, a tribal of Muniguda village. Such is the feeling everywhere as locals fear more violence in coming days. Meanwhile, police administration has swung into action by deploying over 4,000 armed police in the region. Intelligence networks have also been spruced up.

There are 2.5 lakh voters in the district. In the past two sensitive segments - Malkangiri and Chitrokonda - had recorded 60 percent polling.

Poll pundits said the polling percentage would come down to 40 in the wake of Naxal threat this time. The killing of Madkami has also adversely affected the electioneering by different candidates in the district. Meetings of many political bigwigs, who were scheduled to air dash to Malkangiri, have also been cancelled for security concerns.

Meanwhile, Maoists’ Malkangiri divisional committee secretary Rampal said they have not issued any warning to people.

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