Guwahati (Assam), April 2 : Four officials of the Election Commission have been suspended and re-polling has been ordered at a polling station after an Electronic Voting Machine was found inside Bharatiya Janata Party’s Patharkandi candidate Krishnendu Paul’s car hours after polling concluded for the second phase in Assam.
The incident triggered a major row, even resulting in violence in the area. It all began after a video surfaced on a social media platform allegedly showing an EVM in Paul’s car. The car was attacked and vandalised, as seen in the video, and the situation remained tense in the area after the incident.
In an official statement issued on Friday, the Election Commission said that the Presiding Officer has been issued a show-cause notice for violation of transport protocol. “The PO & 3 other officials have been placed under suspension. Although EVM’s seals were found intact it has been decided to do a re-poll at No 149- Indira MV School of LAC 1 Ratabari(SC) as added precaution. A report has also been sought from the Special Observer,” it said.
Polling party 149-Indira MV School of LAC 1 Ratabari (SC) met with incident. Party comprised a Presiding Officer & 3 polling personnel. They were accompanied by police personnel comprising a constable & a homeguard:EC pic.twitter.com/irm3DEr6KV
— ANI (@ANI) April 2, 2021
the EC statement added that at 9.20 PM last night, the polling party hailed a passing vehicle and boarded it along with the EVM without checking the ownership of the vehicle. “As reported by the polling party, they started moving towards Karimganj….at around 2200 hours…they were surrounded by a mob of about 50 people which started pelting 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 Sri Krishnendu Paul who is a contesting candidate of a neighbouring constituency and he levelled allegations that the EVM was being taken to be tampered with.”
The EC statement claims that only then did the team realise that something was amiss and alerted higher officials. “However, a larger crowd had gathered by then and and they were attacked and held hostage.”
An FIR has also been lodged against unknown persons who attacked the car carrying the polled EVM. “Further investigations are on about the sequence of events, the EVM was not tampered with during the crowd attack and is in the custody of the administration,” it said.
The video of the incident was also shared by Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who attacked the ruling party and asked the EC to act decisively. “Every time there is an election, videos of private vehicles caught transporting EVM’s show up. Unsurprisingly they have the following things in common: 1. The vehicles usually belong to BJP candidates or their associates.2. The videos are taken as one-off incidents and dismissed as aberrations. 3. The BJP uses its media machinery to accuse those who exposed the videos as sore losers. The fact is that too many such incidents are being reported and nothing is being done about them,” she said in multiple tweets.
Every time there is an election videos of private vehicles caught transporting EVM’s show up. Unsurprisingly they have the following things in common:
1. The vehicles usually belong to BJP candidates or their associates. ….
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) April 2, 2021
She also added that the Election Commission should start acting decisively on these complaints and a serious re-evaluation of the use of EVMs needs to be carried out by all national parties.
Polls in Assam are being held in three phases. While voting for two phases has concluded, polling for the third phase will be held on April 6. The state recorded around 78 per cent turnout in the second phase yesterday and around 77 per cent turnout in phase-I polls on March 27. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.