Bhadrak: Amid incidents of violence and ballot box loots at a number of places during the third phase of three-tier rural polls in Odisha, a severe case of rigging was witnessed Sunday at the Booth No-4 in Badagallo ME School under Tihidi block of Bhadrak district.
A woman candidate to the post of Zilla Parishad member was seen rigging in presence of around a dozen of cops including senior ones. Many locals alleged that the entire rigging incident took place when Jajpur ASP Jatin Panda was also present at the polling station.
However, a video depicting the rigging act of the woman ZP candidate of a particular party has been making rounds on social media.
According to a source, the ZP candidate forcibly cast multiple votes on a particular symbol after entering Booth No-4 in the ME school. The woman Ritanjali Patra was seen, in the purported video, snatching ballot papers from local voters and casting all the votes herself to ensure victory for her father-in-law Surendra Nayak, who is contesting as a sarpanch candidate in the Tihidi block of Bhadrak district.
A presiding officer on duty opposed the woman’s undemocratic acts. She did not pay any heed to the poll official and abused him instead. The presiding officer was also seen desperately pleading with police officials deployed outside the polling booth to come to his aid.
The woman candidate Ritanjali was seen preventing a journalist from recording any video in and outside the booth. She also warned the journalist to leave the place at once and issued open threats.
Besides, Ritanjali did not stop her undemocratic act and is said to have restricted another Zilla Parishad candidate identified as Jharani Jena from casting her vote. She compelled the latter to return. Jharani blamed the local police for indirectly cooperating with Ritanjali by acting as mute spectators and thereby violating election norms.
On the other hand, many voters who came to the booth to exercise their right to franchise left without casting votes due to Ritanjali.
On being contacted, ASP Panda refuted the allegation of booth rigging and claimed that polling was held in smooth and fair manner at the Booth No-4 in Badagallo. “We had identified the sensitive booths and engaged adequate number of police officers, armed and APR forces. We had deployed one police officer per each booth. A mobile police party was also engaged in service to tour booth-wise to avert untowards situation and maintain law and order,” he asserted.