Movement Of EVMs In UP And Bihar Raised Questions Over It

Movement Of EVMs In UP And Bihar Raised Questions Over It

Movement Of EVMs In UP And Bihar Raised Questions Over It

New Delhi: Amid the opposition's concerns about voting machines just ahead of the counting of votes in the national election on Thursday, allegations have surfaced of electronic voting machines being tampered with in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

In eastern Uttar Pradesh's Ghazipur, the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate held a sit-in outside the local strongroom for electronic voting machines last night. Afzal Ansari and his supporters claim there was an attempt to take out a vehicle full of electronic voting machines. The police and the district have denied the allegations. Afzal Ansari is the brother of jailed Uttar Pradesh strongman Mukhtar Ansari who has a number of cases against him.

Afzal Ansari's opponent in Ghazipur is Union Minister Manoj Sinha of the BJP. The sit-in ended after the returning officer of the district assured the protestors that arrangements are in place to have representatives of the candidates at vantage points around the EVM strongrooms and that there will be complete transparency.

A mobile phone clip shot this morning from the Chandauli parliamentary seat, not far from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Varanasi seat, shows EVMs being off-loaded and put in a room inside the counting centre complex. Supporters of the Samajwadi Party candidate in Chandauli, who filmed the video, can be heard questioning why the voting machines were being off-loaded two days after polling and why they were not brought in earlier.

The administration says the machines seen in the video are about 35 reserve EVM units from an assembly segment in Chandauli. Officials said these 35 voting machines reached the strongroom and the counting centre later than the other EVMs because of logistical issues.

Ghazipur and Chandauli voted on Sunday, in the final round of seven-phase election.

Last Tuesday, workers of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, who fought the polls together, 'caught' a mini-truck full of EVMs  being taken out of the compound of the strongroom in eastern Uttar Pradesh's Domariyaganj seat. The alliance workers said this was a ploy by the BJP to tamper with the voting machines. After protests, the voting machines were taken back into the counting centre compound.

The local administration that reached the spot claimed these were extra EVMs sent to them before the sixth round of voting and that they were being taken to districts voting in the seventh phase.

Also there was another incident where a district official reportedly  called an election team on his phone through the loudspeaker and tried to get them to acknowledge that the transfer of EVMs was happening as per their orders but the man on the other side apparently denied any knowledge of this.

The videos and the allegations have emerged just ahead of a meeting of 21 opposition parties, including the Congress, with the Election Commission this afternoon to flag their concerns about Electronic Voting Machines and the VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Trail Machines).

In Bihar, Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal has shared pictures of voting machines being transported in a vehicle in Saran.

"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" Bihar opposition leader Tejashiw Yadav tweeted.

According to an order by the Election Commission in December last year, all EVMs that were used for voting and reserve EVMs "shall be under cover of armed police at all times" after polling process is over. The order says "reserve EVMs should also be returned at the same time when the polled EVMs are returned at the receipt center".