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Tension prevails in disputed Kotia villages as Odisha police stop voters

Srikakulam: Mild tension prevailed in the disputed Kotia villages of Vizianagaram district with the Odisha police and political leaders of that State trying to prevent the locals from casting their vote in the elections to the MPTCs and ZPTCs.

After the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday cleared hurdles for the elections, the Koraput district administration imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 in Kotia panchayat, citing spread of Covid-19 in some of the villages. The locals, however, defied the restrictions and wanted to cast their vote.

The district administration deployed police forces and closed all the roads leading to the polling stations in Thonam and Monangi and placed boulders and fallen trees to prevent people from reaching there.

Voters of Ganjaibhadra and Diguva Ganjaibhadra villages tried to cross the obstacles and reach the polling stations to cast their votes but were stopped by the Odisha police, who asked them to go back to their villages. This led to arguments between voters and the Odisha police and political leaders, who earlier gave a call to boycott the elections.

The Odisha officials cited that the restrictions were put in place as six Covid-19 positive cases were reported in Nerellavalasa and Pattuchenneru villages and as part of measures to stop the spread of the virus, they closed all the ways to Thonam and Monangi villages.

Voters, who wanted to cast their votes, staged a dharna demanding that they be allowed to cast their vote. They said they are ready to surrender their ration, Aadhaar and other welfare scheme cards to the Odisha government. In response, the political leaders from Odisha staged a dharna against the violation of Covid-19 regulations by the electorate as well as the AP officials, who urged the Odisha police to allow people to cast their vote.

Parvathipuram Sub-Collector Videh Khare rushed to the village and held talks with the Odisha officials after which the voters were allowed to go to the polling stations. Meanwhile, the political leaders from Odisha accused the AP government of violating the status quo ordered by the Supreme Court on disputed Kotia villages.

However, the AP Revenue officials maintained that the status quo is not applicable to elections and it is applicable only on taking up permanent constructions in the disputed villages. AP officials maintained that they have conducted elections to gram panchayats earlier and Odisha officials did not oppose it.

The political leaders from Odisha accused the AP government of violating the status quo ordered by the Supreme Court on disputed Kotia villages. However, the AP Revenue officials maintained that the status quo is not applicable to elections and it is applicable only on taking up constructions.