The Election Commission-assigned vehicle of a polling team posted in Karimganj’s Ratanari constituency broke down on its way back.
A poll panel team’s unexplained decision to use a private vehicle to transport an electronic voting machine (EVM) at the end of polling sparked violence in Assam’s Barak Valley region yesterday. The police resorted to firing blank shots in the air and baton-charging a massive mob, mostly of opposition supporters, which surrounded the car, incidentally belonging to a BJP candidate in Karimganj district. The EVM is secure as are the election personnel, authorities have said.
Assam went through the second phase of polling yesterday, recording over 77 per cent turnout and a few instances of violence. One of the incidents took place in Karimganj, with a video of the disturbance being widely shared on social media.
It followed the break-down of the Election Commission-assigned vehicle of a polling team posted in Karimganj’s Ratanari constituency. The team was on its way back to the strong room after the end of voting, official sources informed NDTV. The presiding officer contacted the sector officer for a replacement vehicle and was assured of one.
The polling staff, however, inexplicably took a lift on a private vehicle, which happened to belong to the BJP candidate from Patharkandi constituency, also in Karimganj district, the sources said. An official said today that one of the candidate’s relatives was the car’s owner.
As the car approached the locality where the strong room is situated, supporters of the opposition identified the vehicle and mobbed it, along with the driver; the police staff ran for safety.
The district administration had to resort to police action to disperse the crowd and secure the vehicle, the EVM, and the polling personnel, officials said.
The opposition has cited the incident to allege “EVM capturing” by the ruling BJP. The Congress’s Gaurav Gogoi, for instance, has said “this is the only way the BJP can win Assam”.
This is the only way the BJP can win Assam: by looting EVMs. EVM capturing, like there used to be booth capturing. All under the nose of the Election Commission. Sad day for democracy. #EVM_theft_Assam#AssamAssemblyElection2021https://t.co/5dmlu67Uui
— Gaurav Gogoi (@GauravGogoiAsm) April 1, 2021
Dubbing the BJP a serial offender in such cases, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, in a series of tweets, sought “a serious re-evaluation of the use of EVMs” by all national parties.
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
Badruddin Ajmal of the AIUDF, which is in alliance with the Congress, tweeted saying “stealing EVMs” was the BJP’s last resort after all its other moves — “polarisation”, “buying votes”, “doublespeak on CAA”, among others — had failed.
Buying votes? Failed.
Buying candidates? Failed.
Double CMs? Failed.
Doublespeak on CAA? Failed.
Loser BJP’s last resort: steal the EVMs.
Murder of democracy.#EVM_theft_Assam#AssamAssemblyElection2021https://t.co/2TRZRFvqDb
— Maulana Badruddin Ajmal (@BadruddinAjmal) April 2, 2021