Six persons, including five polling personnel, who had gone missing in Maoist-hit Malkangiri district have been traced after remaining incommunicado for around 12 hours and are safe, police said on Saturday.
The polling personnel had left their offices and remained incommunicado on Friday after being told by locals that Maoists, who had asked people to stay away from the ensuing Panchayat polls, might attack them, Rahul P R, sub-divisional police officer of Chitrakonda said.
All the five personnel as well as an ex-sarpanch have been traced and they are safe, the SDPO said, adding that their absence had caused anxiety as they had not passed on any communication.
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, police said.
As reports of their missing spread like wild fire, the state government turned alert. Home Secretary Asit Tripathy asked the Director General of police to ascertain the exact position as the area happens to be Maoist-affected.
DGP K B Singh had said on Friday that special team had been sent to trace the officers.
The panchayat election officials had gone to the area on January 11 and are slated to return by January 18.
The incident took place while the process of filing nomination papers is on for the three-tier panchayat elections scheduled next month. Notably, the Maoists have warned the tribals of Malkangiri district to abstain themselves from the poll.
Police had seized hand-written Maoist posters in Kudumulugumma about six days ago wherein Malkangiri District Divisional Committee of Maoists asked people not to take part in the upcoming polls.