Chandrapur: High drama prevailed in Durgapur when some alert citizens intercepted a private vehicle transporting EVMs and VVPAT machines on Monday after the polling hours.
As no polling official was accompanying the vehicle, rumours of EVM tampering spread in the area and a large mob gathered at the spot. The mob did not allow the vehicle to go. The police were informed about the incident and the vehicle was taken to Durgapur police station late in the night. A large number of citizens followed the vehicle there. As the mob was unrelenting, police had to resort to light baton charge to disperse the onlookers.
Vanchit Bhaujan Aghadi (VBA) candidate Raju Zode said that the EVMs were used for polling in Durgapur area under Ballarpur assembly constituency. “After the polling hours, people saw a car carrying three EVMs and VVPAT units at unsecured location 500 metres away from nearest polling booths. There was no zonal officer in the car as per Election Commission’s protocol for transportation of EVMs. Driver and a lone policeman were carrying three EVMs and VVPAT sets in the car. The place where the vehicle was intercepted is close to a local BJP zilla parishad member’s residence,” Zode said suspecting that the polling machines were being taken for manipulating votes.
Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar is MLA from Ballarpur constituency and is seeking re-election for third term. After the matter came to light at around 8pm, heavy police force was rushed to Durgapur.
Congress candidate Vikas Zade and VBA’s Zode also rushed to the spot. Police and leaders tried to pacify the mob, but people were irked and demanded checking of the EVMs on the spot. The drama continued till collector Kunal Khemnar and SP Maheshwar Reddy reached Durgapur late in the night. They held a meeting with the candidates and explained that the EVMs were reserved units and had been found faulty. These machines were not used in the polling process, the authorities said.
Khemnar claimed that all EVMs used in polling were safely taken to strongroom under Ballarpur returning officer. “People who caught the EVMs had a misunderstanding and later the matter was explained to the candidates and their representatives. They were given liberty to accompany the EVMs and note their serial numbers. If they have doubts, they can check the machines in front of returning officer after the units reach strongroom,” Khemnar said.
Zode was, however, not satisfied with the explanation and demanded removal of returning officer of Ballarpur constituency and appointment of new one. He also demanded re-polling in the area where alleged suspicious EVMs were found in the car. Zode said that he has demanded necessary documents from the administration and plans to move court.