EC on ‘Unescorted’ EVMs in UP, Bihar‘: Allegations are Baseless.

Vishal Chauhan, 21/05/2019
EC on ‘Unescorted’ EVMs in UP, Bihar‘: Allegations are Baseless.

The Election Commission on Tuesday, 21 May, responded to multiple reports of EVMs being transported without security in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The poll panel has called the reports “baseless” and clarified that in all cases, the EVMs and VVPATs were sealed properly in front of parties’ candidates.

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.”

Responding to the reports from Ghazipur, the EC said there was an issue regarding candidates having a watch on the EVM strong room but the matter was resolved “by conveying the EC instructions”.

Earlier on Monday, few incidents of EVMs being transported without any security were reported in EC strong rooms in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar after the voting wrapped up for the Lok Sabha polls.

EVM Trucks Intercepted in UP’s Chandauli

In Uttar Pradesh’s Chandauli, the seizure of an EVM-laden truck has also 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.

 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.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, the Congress party and the SP-BSP alliance had deputed its own workers to monitor the strong room, near the market area in Chandauli. The EVMs had been kept there after the voting on Sunday, 19 May.

The truck was spotted late on Monday by the party workers, according to the report. Following which, several leaders accused the BJP of tampering with the EVMs.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted another video, which claimed that a truck full of EVMs entered a strong room in Fatehabad in Haryana, raising similar suspicions.

SP-BSP Candidate in Ghazipur Protests, Alleging EVM Tampering

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.

 In a video, Ansari and his supporters were seen engaging in a heated argument with a police officer. In the video, Ansari is seen mentioning the Chandauli incident and alleging similar practices in Gazipur.

RJD Claims Vehicle Full Of Evms Found Outside Strong Room in Bihar

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.

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

What EC Guidelines Say

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.”

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