As many as 76 people have been arrested in connection to violence in various parts of Odisha during panchayat elections which began in the state on February 16, The Indian Express reported, citing the police.
The arrests were made in Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Jagatsinhpur, Puri and Kendrapara districts after people tried to capture polling booths.
Elections for 853 zilla parishad seats in district bodies, 91,916 wards in municipalities and 6,794 gram panchayat seats in villages are being held in fives phases in the state. Three phases of polling have been completed till February 20. The other two phases will be held on February 22 and February 24.
On Monday, 11 people, including six women, were arrested in Jajpur district for allegedly assaulting three journalists, The Indian Express reported. The journalists claimed they were on their way to cover an alleged attempt of rigging at two polling booths in the Binjharpur block of Jajpur district when they were attacked.
In the same area, ballot boxes miscreants threw ballot boxes into a pond, The Hindu reported.
State Election Commission has announced re-polling in 45 booths across Jajpur, Kendrapara, Puri, and Dhenkanal districts.
“The voting was disrupted at a few places due to law and order situation,” State Election Commissioner Aditya Prasad Padhi said, according to The Hindu. “We have sought reports from the districts and would chalk out the next course of action based on the report.”
Opposition parties in the state blamed the ruling Biju Janata Dal for the irregularities.
Niranjan Patnaik, the chief of Congress’ state unit alleged that the violence against journalists and disrupting the polling process was an attack on democracy and the civil society, according to The Indian Express.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Golak Mahapatra alleged that the attacks were sponsored by the ruling government.
“These attacks are pre-planned and sponsored by the Biju Janata Dal because they can sense that there is a growing support towards the BJP,” he said.