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Rebels in hate-poll drive

Bhubaneswar/Sambalpur, Feb. 9: Sambalpur police today said they found and removed anti-panchayat election material, reportedly circulated by Maoists, from the western Orissa town.

Late on Thursday evening, a banner saying “Boycott polls and assert your democratic right” was spotted at a Shiva temple near Bareipani Industrial Estate.

Maoist cadre had also distributed leaflets and posters in the Dasmati Colony, Stationpara, Malipara and Mudipara areas.

With the panchayat polls only four days away, the appearance of leaflets and banners urging people not to cast their votes gave the local residents a cause for concern.

“Three youths put up them up but I don’t know who they were,” said a paan shop owner, choosing to remain anonymous. At least three banners and around 100 posters, allegedly issued by the CPI(Maoist)’s zonal committee, surfaced in the town.

With chief minister Naveen Patnaik scheduled to campaign in the district tomorrow, superintendent of police S. Devdutt Singh said they were keeping a close eye on potential troublemakers. “We have removed the posters and banners and taken steps to ensure tight security.”

By putting up the anti-election material, the Naxalites made their presence felt not only in the interiors of the district but also in Sambalpur town, said sources.

“It has become crystal clear from the incident that the Maoists and their supporters are present in Sambalpur town in good numbers,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity.

In the leaflets, the Maoists said there have been several changes in the country’s power circles since Independence. But there has been no change in the condition of the poor, it added.

“For whose interests are the elections conducted for'” the leaflets asked. “Once elected, our leaders get five-year contracts to swindle public property. Hence, people should keep away from (the) elections to make democracy stronger.”

Patrolling has been stepped up in the town to keep trouble at bay.

“Doing something secretly is not a major thing. We have taken adequate preventive measures. Such an effort of the Maoists will do nothing but mislead the people. But they will not succeed in their efforts,” said SP Singh.

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