Maoist road blockade removed in Malkangiri, easing traffic

KORAPUT: Traffic between Maoist-hit Malkangiri district and rest of the state resumed after on Saturday after BSF personnel cleared the road blockades put up suspected Maoists at Govindpally ghat road.

Malkangiri had remained cut-off from rest of the state since Friday night after suspected Red rebels obstructed the only ghat road connecting the southern district with the rest of the state by felling trees. Many vehicles were stranded on either side of the highway because the blockade was put up at 9 pm. “At present, the situation is under control and no mishap reported,” said a police officer posted at Malkangiri.

“We suspect it to be the handiwork of Maoists. But as no Maoist poster or banner was found at the spot, it could be the handiwork of miscreants to create panic in the area,” the officer added.

Malkangiri administration has strengthened security for the fifth and the final phase of the three-tier rural polls to be held on Sunday. The polls will be for zilla parishad seats of Podia and Kudumulugumma zone-2 in the cut-off area across the Balimela reservoir. “As both seats are in the Maoist dominated areas, we can’t take a chance. Security has been stepped up for the rural poll and the securitymen have been kept on maximum alert to thwart any possible rebel attack,” the police officer said.

On Saturday, an official, Punil Bihari Sarkar (55), died at Malkangiri while undergoing treatment. Sarkar had fainted while collecting election material at Kudumulgumma block on Friday and was soon rushed to the local hospital before being shifted to Malkangiri hospital. However, collector Malkangiri Balwant Singh said, “The official was not on election duty and was relieved by the election officer concerned after the deceased complained of chest complications.”

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