Tension in Assam’s Patharkandi after reports of EVMs found in BJP MLA’s car - Hindustan Times
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Tension in Assam’s Patharkandi after reports of EVMs found in BJP MLA’s car

ByBiswa Kalyan Purkayastha
Apr 02, 2021 02:49 PM IST

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused the BJP of trying to manipulate elections. “...A serious re-evaluation of the use of EVMs needs to be carried out by all national parties,” she tweeted

A mob damaged spare Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in Cachar amid tension in Assam’s Barak Valley after EVMs were allegedly found in ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Krishnendu Paul’s car at Patharkandi in Karimganj district on Thursday night.

Election officers carrying Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). (Representational image/AP File)
Election officers carrying Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). (Representational image/AP File)

Guwahati-based journalist Atanu Bhuyan first tweeted about the EVMs allegedly having been found in Paul’s car hours after the polling for the second phase of elections in Assam ended. A video purportedly showing some people surrounding the vehicle surfaced. Paul was not seen in the car. HT accessed Paul’s election affidavit in which the vehicle seen in the video is shown to be to that of his wife, Madhumita.

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Paul did not respond to calls for his comments and local officials were yet to comment over the controversy.

News agency ANI cited unnamed sources and said an Election Commission (EC) car carrying the EVMs broke down and officials took a lift in a car that was later identified to be “belonging to a BJP candidate”. It added a crowd intercepted the car as it did not belong to EC. ANI reported a First Information Report has been lodged against unknown people who attacked the car. It added investigations were on about the sequence of events and that EVMs were not tampered with during the attack and were in the custody of the administration.

Also Read | Assam records over 77% polling in second phase; 6 injured in violence

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused the BJP of trying to manipulate elections. “The fact is, too many such incidents are being reported and nothing is being done about them. The EC needs to 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,” she tweeted.

A group of men on Thursday night separately stopped a few vehicles carrying spare EVMs in Cachar district as they suspected their illegal transport. “These are doctored EVMs, which will now be replaced with the EVMs that recorded the votes. Why these EVMs were being transported in a private vehicle without any security personnel,” said one of the men.

The men attacked a vehicle and turned it upside down, forcing police to fire in the air to control the situation. The chaos resulted in a traffic jam across five kilometres in Mahasadak. Polling officials were forced to walk with EVMs to reach the election coordination centre.

Cachar police superintendent Bhanwar Lal Meena rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation.

Cachar deputy commissioner Keerthi Jalli said the EVMs were reserved, unused and unpolled. “These were being moved by Sector Magistrate to D category Strong Room as mandated by ECI under Strong Room rules. The unused EVMs have been brought to D Category strong room with their seals intact. There is no question that used EVMs can be carried this way. There was confusion and I appeal to all the people not to believe in rumours,” Jalli said in a statement.

The pictures of broken EVMs went viral on social media in the region.

BJP leader Subhash Dutta said the conduct of election and transport and security of EVMs is the EC’s job. “The BJP has no role to play in the entire process. Hence, it is the EC which is answerable, not us. Congress may say whatever they want. They are dejected as they are now aware of losing and therefore indulging in blame game.”

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