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5 missing poll personnel return from Maoist captivity

Malkangiri: Five polling personnel, who had gone missing in Odisha’s Malkangiri district, returned home on Sunday with two of them claiming that they were in the captivity of Maoists who had asked them to keep away from the ensuing Panchayat poll process.

Two of the five polling personnel who had gone missing yesterday from the remote and cut-off area in Chitrakonda and incommunicado for around 12 hours, told the police after their return that they had been detained by Maoists at Gora Setu village, DIG (South-West), S Saini told reporters.

The duo — Praveen Soren and Kaminikanta Shi – claimed that the Maoists had warned them against performing duties for the panchayat elections slated for next month, the DIG said.

They also claimed that they were produced before a Praja (Public) Court where around 20 Maoists were present.

A former sarpanch, who was also believed to have gone missing along with the poll personnel, too has returned home and it emerged that he fled himself fearing Maoist attack, officials said.

Investigation into the case was on and the exact situation would be known after inquiry, Saini said.

Regarding the election process, the DIG said the matter would be discussed by the District Collector and SP with the State Election Commission.

Earlier in the day, Rahul P R, Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Chitrakonda, had said all five polling personnel and an ex-sarpanch who had gone missing for the whole day yesterday have been traced and they were all safe.

Malkangiri District Collector K Sudarshan Chakravarthy said the matter was being examined to ascertain the exact circumstances that led to the incident.

The election personnel of Panasput, Jantri, Gajal Mamudi, Andrapalli and Jodamba panchayats and a former sarpanch of Jodamba were the ones who had gone missing from the remote area of Chitrakonda, the police said.