71% voter turnout at end of 3rd phase Panchayat polls in Odisha: SEC

Bhubaneswar: Amid some stray incidents of violence, the third phase Panchayat polls in Odisha passed off peacefully on Sunday with 71 per cent voting.

The election was held for 171 Zilla Parishad members at 18,495 booths in 1,382 Panchayats of 63 Blocks in 29 districts across the state. As per preliminary reports, 71 per cent out of 56.53 lakh voters turned up at the booths in this phase, State Election Commissioner Aditya Prasad Padhi said here.

The polling began at 7 a.m. and continued till 1 p.m. However, in places where voters were seen standing in queue, they were allowed to cast their votes.

The Commission has strongly condemned the attack on journalists in Binjharpur area of Jajpur district. The DGP and Jajpur district administration have been directed to arrest the culprits and take strong action against them, Padhi said.

As per sources, the three journalists had gone to cover the alleged loot of ballot boxes from two booths at Bachala Panchayat under Binjharpur block when they were brutally assaulted by unidentified miscreants. The vehicle of the journalists was also allegedly ransacked by the mob.

Similarly, the election was also disrupted in some places due to law and order issues, he said, adding, “After getting detailed reports from the concerned district collectors, the State Election Commission will examine it and take further course of action.”

However, the election was also passed peacefully in the Maoist affected areas including Mathili & Podia blocks of Malkangiri district and Phiringia block of Kandhamal district, Padhi said.

Earlier in the day, security personnel detected a live tiffin bomb suspected to be planted by Maoists at a bridge near the Niyamgiri hill in Rayagada district. Later, the bomb was defused and security has been tightened in the entire area, police said.

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