Bhubaneswar: Around 40% voting was recorded till 1330 hrs in 10 Lok Sabha and 70 assembly constituencies of Orissa, which witnessed sporadic incidents of firing and arson by Naxals in Malkangiri and Sundargarh districts.
Despite the Maoists’ call for poll boycott, voters’ turn-out was encouraging in Naxal-infested districts like Malkangiri, Gajapati, Rayagada, Koraput, Sundargarh and parts of Ganjam where over 30% polling was recorded.
In riot-ravaged Kandhamal, where both Naxal and communal threat loomed large, voters’ turn-out was around 40% till 1300hrs with a large number of riot-affected, including those lodged in relief camps, heading to booths.
Heavy exchange of fire took place between the CRPF and Maoists early in the morning at Mahupada, about 40 km from Rourkela in Sundargarh district but there was no report of injury to anybody, police said.
Superintendent of Police, Rourkela, Santosh Bala said the situation is under control and polling is being held peacefully.
At least three polling booths, EVMs and two vehicles were set afire by Maoists in Chitrakonda and Kalimela area of Malkangiri, disrupting polls.
A micro-observer, Jagdish Prasad Nayak, who was on poll duty at a booth at Tamda in Bonai area of Sundargarh, died this morning after suddenly falling ill, Sub-Collector S C Mishra said.
Nayak was an assistant manager of the State Bank of India branch at Rajgangpur.
Over 24 booths in Rayagada, Deogarh, Sambalpur, Ganjam, Nuapada and Sundargarh districts witnessed boycott of polls by voters over local issues while polling was delayed in over 20 booths due to defective EVMs, election office sources said.
Not a single voter has turned up at a booth at remote Jhirpani in Sundargarh district so far due to Maoist threat and efforts are being made to persuade the electorate to exercise their franchise under security cover.
Polling, which remained subdued in early hours gradually picked up both in rural and urban areas with long queues seen at booths under overcast sky in many parts due to formation of a cyclonic storm over Bay of Bengal.