EVM issue in Assam: EC suspends 4 officials, orders repoll
A few hours after the second phase of polling ended in Assam on Thursday, a video purportedly showing an electronic voting machine (EVM) being transported in the private vehicle of a sitting BJP’s Patharkandi MLA Krishnendu Paul surfaced on social media.
It was alleged that EVM was being transported in a vehicle owned by a BJP leader to tamper with the votes stored in it.
However, explaining the series of events, the Election Commission has released a detailed clarification.
The report provided by EC stated that the polling party convoy comprising a Presiding Officer and three polling personnel were returning in a convoy after the completion of polling at the polling booth at No 149- Indira MV School under the Ratabari constituency, when they got stuck into unprecedented traffic congestion.
However, the EC vehicle carrying the polling party from booth number 149 got detached due to traffic and weather conditions.
“The party alighted from the vehicle and called the Sector Officer Sri Ajoy Sutradhar on his mobile and informed him. While the sector officer was arranging for an alternate vehicle, the polling party decided to arrange a vehicle of its own so as to reach the Material Receipt Centre faster since they were in custody of polled EVMs,” the Election Commission emphasised.
Later on the polling party hailed a passing vehicle and boarded on it with their EVM without checking the ownership of the vehicle. And as “they reached Kanaishil, Karimganj at 11 pm, they had to slow down due to traffic."
The EC said when they slowed down, they were surrounded by a mob of about 50 people which started hurling stones at them.
"The mob also started abusing them and did not allow the vehicle to pass. When they asked the leader of the mob, he replied that it was the vehicle of Krishnendu Paul, a contesting candidate of Patharkandi and he levelled allegations that EVM was being taken to be tampered with. They realised that something was amiss and alerted the Sector Officer," the EC report said.
On receiving information, the Data Entry Operator (DEO) of Karimganj reached the spot along with the Superintendent of Police (SP).
However, when they reached the spot, the situation became violent as the mob started pelting stones on the vehicle and the team was attacked and held hostage by a mob along with the EVM in the vehicle.
The Election Commission has reordered poll in Booth No. 149 in Ratabari. Even though as per EC, the EVM was found to be with its seal intact without any damage.
An FIR has also been lodged against unknown persons who attacked the car carrying the polled EVM and re-polling has been ordered at a polling station by Election Commission.
The EC has also suspended four polling officials- Presiding Officer Sahab Uddin Talukdar, and Polling Officers Saurav Acharjee, Abdul Mumit Choudhury and Sahab Uddin Tapadar, deputed in Assam’s Karimganj following the incident.
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