EVM found in BJP candidate’s car in Assam: EC suspends four, orders repoll in the booth
Election Commission on Friday ordered suspension of four polling personnel and repoll in a polling booth in Assam after reports surfaced that the EVM had been found in the car intercepted by people
A convoluted explanation offered by the Election Commission of India on Friday failed to douse the controversy surrounding an EVM machine used in the second phase of polling in Karimganj (Assam) found in a vehicle registered in the name of a BJP candidate’s wife.
The incident came to light after a journalist Atanu Bhuyan shared the following video on social media:
The EVM machines, the ECI explained, was from just one polling booth while ordering the suspension of the four polling officials and a repoll in that booth.
The Election Commission claimed that the vehicle carrying the EVM machines after the polling broke down. And the polling party got detached from the convoy and police escorts. But while an alternative vehicle was being arranged, the polling party hailed a passing vehicle and boarded it without checking the ownership of the vehicle.
The vehicle, however, was stopped by a crowd, which pelted stones at the vehicle. The polling party was also about to be assaulted, says the press note, but SP, Karimganj arrived and rescued them. Blank fires had to be resorted to disperse the crowd and the SP sustained injuries on his collar bone, the press note adds.
The weather was inclement, the road was muddy and there was traffic congestion on NH 8 with 1,300 vehicles returning from polling clogging the highway, the note claimed. Later it was found that the car hailed by the polling party was registered in the name of a BJP candidate. But since the seals on the BU, CU, EVM and VVPT were found to be intact, they were deposited in the strongroom.
The EC’s press note claims that the polling officials were suspended for not following the ‘transport protocol’.
What it fails to explain is if there were separate vehicles carrying the polling parties and the EVMs and VVPAT units from each booth; how many vehicles were in the convoy; how this particular vehicle got detached; why the polling party could not get in touch with other vehicles in the convoy and what was the BJP candidate’s vehicle doing at that hour, several hours after the polling got over.
The timeline provided by the press note also raised questions. The car broke down at 9 pm, the polling party hailed the passing vehicle at 9.20 pm, it reached Kanaishil and slowed down because of heavy traffic at 10 pm but came under attack from the crowd at 9.45 pm. The police reinforcements, the note says, reached the site at 10.20 pm and by 11.20 pm, the machines had been deposited in the strongroom.
Congress MP Manish Tewari tweeted, “ The issue is not a repoll of a particular booth. It is how did an EVM crawl into the car of a BJP candidate ? Who is in bed with whom here and for how long ? Requires a Joint Parliamentary Committee investigation.
ECI’s press note can be read here:
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