19 April 2019
Kandhamal: Turning fiction into reality once again, poll officials in Sirla and Phulbani here walked back several kilometers with security personnel after concluding second phase polling late night on Thursday.
This comes a week after 36 officers of six polling parties made headlines for walking back in hilly Maoists-infested terrains of Malkangiri to bring EVMs to safety. Both the incidents remind the people of the movie ‘Newton’ which told the story of a diligent and honest Indian polling officer.
In Phulbani’s Balandapada area in booth number 12 at Barahala, seven polling officers, three drivers and one observer walked back nearly 20 kilometers accompanied by 23 SOG jawans. They had been unable to travel by road as Maoists had felled trees and blocked the roads. Also, polling vehicles become easy targets of IEDs planted by red rebels in this area. Feeding on biscuits and water for dinner, the officials got drenched in the rain to reach a CRPF camp in Balandapada. They arrived at the district headquarters in Phulbani today at 11 am.
In Sirla, 14 polling officers had been given duty in booth 137 and 138 of Government UP School of Kandhamal. After finishing the polling, they had to bring back VVPAT, control units, EVM machines, strong boxes to safety. Braving the rains, these 14 officials accompanied by CRPF jawans crossed rivers, drains and dense trees to return to Tumudibandh headquarters. They successfully brought back the sealed votes of over 1700 voters to safey.
It is notable to mention here that a female polling officer Sanjukta Digal had been gunned down by Maoists in Barala. The Maosists had fired indiscriminately from the woods and Digal had received a bullet on her head.
Despite this violence, the polling officers proceeded to perform their duty diligently and uphold the integrity of Constitution of India.