NEW DELHI – Reports and video clips of transporting unescorted Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) surfaced in different parts of the country like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab raising the suspicion of changing the machine or tampering with it.
These reports have drawn sharp reactions from opposition parties and their supporters as they are coming out two days ahead of the counting of the votes of elections. The Opposition have been raising the issue of malfunctioning and tampering with the machine. They are likely to meet the Election Commission officials with the demand of matching the EVMs with VVAPT.
Visuals and claims of sudden movement of EVMs observed across the north India! Why is it so? Who is transporting these EVMs & Why? What is purpose and objective of this exercise? In order to avoid any confusion & misconception, Election Commission must issue a statement ASAP.
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) May 20, 2019
I trust the Election Commission is looking into this and can provide a satisfactory explanation? https://t.co/6dpHd7CpVD
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) May 21, 2019
In Uttar Pradesh’s Chandauli, the seizure of an EVM-laden truck has created quite the ruckus. In videos doing the rounds, EVMs are being put into a storage unit. The person recording the video is heard saying that the elections got over yesterday but the machines are being brought a day later.
Without any comment, an EVM video from Chandauli, UP.
— Ravi Nair (@t_d_h_nair) May 20, 2019
The workers at the spot are seen telling the person that they are the reserve EVMs that are being brought a day later, on the orders of the Divisional Officer of the area.
In a separate incident, Afzal Ansari, the SP-BSP joint candidate from Uttar Pradesh’s Gazipur, sat on protest outside a strongroom where the electronic voting machines are kept. He claims the EVMs were being transported out of the strongroom in a vehicle.
WATCH MGB candidate from Gazipur confronting POLICE on EVM safety.
He alleges that a truck full of EVMs was spotted. He is now sitting on dharna outside the counting centre. His demand is that instead of CISF, BSF must protect EVMs.
Watch this space for more. pic.twitter.com/kpYLbyPc73
— SaahilMurli Menghani (@saahilmenghani) May 20, 2019
In a video, Ansari and his supporters were seen engaging in a heated argument with a police officer. Ansari is seen mentioning the Chandauli incident and alleging similar practices in Gazipur.
Earlier in the day, the principal opposition party in Bihar, Rashtriya Janata Dal, had claimed that multiple EVMs were seized by its workers from a truck, near the Maharajganj Lok Sabha area in Bihar. The party even shared some pictures on its official Twitter handle, of a mini truck purportedly transporting dozens of EVMs and VVPAT machines.
अभी-अभी बिहार के सारण और महाराजगंज लोकसभा क्षेत्र स्ट्रोंग रूम के आस-पास मँडरा रही EVM से भरी एक गाड़ी जो शायद अंदर घुसने के फ़िराक़ में थी उसे राजद-कांग्रेस के कार्यकर्ताओं ने पकड़ा। साथ मे सदर BDO भी थे जिनके पास कोई जबाब नही है। सवाल उठना लाजिमी है? छपरा प्रशासन का कैसा खेल?? pic.twitter.com/K1dZCsZNAG
— Rashtriya Janata Dal (@RJDforIndia) May 20, 2019
It claims that the EVM-laden mini-truck was moving around the strong rooms near the Saran and Maharajganj Lok Sabha areas, seemingly in a bid to enter the rooms, set up for the safekeeping of the EVMs by the Election Commission.
The party alleged that the BJP was attempting to manipulate the EVMs, in a bid to change the outcome of the elections. It has also asked its party workers to remain vigilant, to curb other such attempts.
The party also retweeted another video which makes claims about similar discrepancies in Uttar Pradesh’s Jhansi. The video was originally tweeted by the handle of Welfare Party of India Maharashtra.
However, the Election Commission has rejected the claims of any wrong with the machines. Speaking to ANI, District Election Office of Jhansi Shiv Sahay Awasthi said, “Some polling parties arrived late. However, all EVMs were put in place in the strong room by 7 am. The strong room has been sealed in presence of general observers and candidates under CCTV surveillance.”
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 center.”
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.”