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Multiple Videos of Suspicious EVM Movements Cause Furore, EC Fails to Explain Lack of Armed Police & Timing of Transportation

The incidents, reported mostly from Uttar Pradesh & Bihar, have raised doubts that polled EVMs are being ‘switched’ with pre-loaded ones.

The Lok Sabha elections are over, and a worrying trend can be observed in several parts of the country. Reports of allegedly illegal movements of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have flooded in from several states in north India, especially Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

These have caused a furore that polled EVMs are being ‘switched’ with pre-loaded EVMs at the strong-rooms.

The Election commission has, of course, denied all such news. The EC dismissed claims by Opposition parties that EVMs were being moved around in the days following the polls, while also rejecting allegations of any lapse in security measures at the strongrooms where the EVMs have been kept.

The EC, in so many words, claimed the allegations were frivolous and that EVMs were stored in proper security and protocol in the presence of political parties candidates. It also claims the EVMs being moved were ‘reserved’ EVMs.

Former Chief Election Commissioner Dr SY Quraishi, however, lambasted the EC and asked it to present its findings in a simpler way.

The EC’s explanation is not sufficient considering it is silent on why its own rules for reserved were not followed if it were the reserved EVMs that were being moved. According to the Election Commission guidelines for storage and transportation of EVMs (polled and unpolled), “All polled and reserve EVMs, after the voting, shall be under the cover of armed police at all times. Reserve EVMs should also be returned at the same time when the polled EVMs are returned at the receipt centre.”

The guidelines also say that “it must be ensured that all reserve EVMs are also deposited in the strong room meant for reserve EVMs at the same time when the polled EVMs are deposited in the strong room meant for polled EVMs.”

EC’s fails to explain why these two explicit rules were not followed in the alleged incidents:

1. Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh

On the evening of Monday, May 20, a group of SP-BSP alliance and Congress workers staged a demonstration at the Navin Krishi Mandi Sthal in Chandauli, alleging that EVMs were being changed at the instance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

A mobile phone clip making the rounds on social media shows EVMs being off-loaded and put in a room inside the counting centre complex. Samajwadi Party workers, who filmed the video, can be heard questioning why the voting machines were being off-loaded a day after polling and not earlier.

Hindustan Times reported that the administration denied the allegation that EVMs were being changed, saying that additional unused EVMs from Sakaldiha assembly segment were brought to Naveen Mandi.

2. Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh

On May 20 evening, following the events that took place in Chandauli, the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate from Ghazipur, Afzal Ansari, arrived at the Jangipur Krishi Mandi strong-room to check if the security was adequate but was told by the on-duty cops to leave.

While he and other party workers reportedly, sat at an appropriate distance from the room, cops present there acted suspiciously and asked them to leave. A dispute followed this exchange with the Mahagathbandhan candidate and party workers protesting at the scene.

Also Read:  Ghazipur: BSP Candidate Goes To Strong Room After Video of EVMs Being Transported Surfaces, Police Tell Him To Leave

3. Domariyaganj, Uttar Pradesh

On May 14 in Uttar Pradesh’s Domariyaganj, Rajendra Agarwal, the Naib or deputy Tehsildar, was allegedly apprehended trying to ‘switch’ EVMs.

As per reports, two days after Domariyaganj voted, dozens of EVMs were found in Agrawal’s jeep. Besides that, the accompanying vehicle was an unregistered pickup van, which too was loaded with EVMs. The incident was flagged by Congress and SP-BSP workers who did not let Agrawal move. Siddharthnagar district magistrate Kunal Silku and the local SP soon made their way to the scene to handle this sensitive situation.

Also Read:  Uttar Pradesh: Naib Tehsildar Caught Transporting EVMs In Unregistered Car, State Election Officer Says No Such Order Given

4. Fatehabad, Haryana

On the evening of May 14, a truck laden with empty metal trunks, reportedly without proper permits, drove straight to the strong-room set up at the Girls’ High School located at Bhodia Khera village in Fatehabad, Haryana. Congress leaders suspected it to be an attempt to tamper with EVMs. When ACP Vijay Pratap Singh asked the driver to show the required permit to enter the election area, he couldn’t furnish any documents. Eventually, the truck was taken away from the strong-room.

On further inquiry, it was discovered that the tehsildar, on instructions from the election officers, asked for the truck to be brought from Tohana. The metal trunks in the truck would have been used to house the EVMs. The Congress leaders present at the scene have alleged that the security forces allowing the truck to enter the strong-room, without proper permits, was a well thought out strategy. They have claimed that the plan was to switch EVMs, which failed due to the Congress’ quick reaction.

Also Read: Haryana: Truck With Empty Trunks Enters EVM Strong Room; Congress Workers Alert Officials, Police

5. Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh

As per a report in Sabrang India, two vehicles, loaded with EVM machines, were seized in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh as the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections was underway on April 29. The report said that the EVMs were loaded in the City Magistrate’s car, while the VVPAT machines were kept in a private vehicle. As the police arrived after receiving this information, the people transporting the EVM machines fled the scene.

The district magistrate of Jhansi, Shiv Sahay Awasthi said that the EVMs found in the car were faulty and were being taken to the storeroom at the Bhojla Mandi site.

A video of this incident tweeted initially by the handle of Welfare Party of India Maharashtra has been making the rounds.

6. Maharajganj, Bihar

On May 20, the Rashtriya Janata Dal claimed on Twitter that multiple EVMs were seized by its workers from a truck, near the Maharajganj Lok Sabha area in Bihar. The party shared some pictures of a mini truck allegedly transporting dozens of EVMs and VVPAT machines. The RJD alleged that the BJP was attempting to manipulate the EVMs, in a bid to change the outcome of the elections, adding that RJD workers remained vigilant.

7. Haryana/Punjab

Another video making the rounds on social media is allegedly from Panipat in Haryana. The footage shows EVMs found inside a car. An Aam Aadmi Party social media team member, however, has claimed that the video is from Punjab. The veracity of the said video could not be established.

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