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HomePoliticsParanoid gathbandhan watchdogs are tracking EVMs with binoculars, walkie-talkies

Paranoid gathbandhan watchdogs are tracking EVMs with binoculars, walkie-talkies

With the motto 'Ek bhi vote ghatne na paye, ek bhi vote batne na paye', watchdogs from the SP, BSP and RLD have been trained in EVM functioning.

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Lucknow: On April 11, a group of 18 people stationed themselves near a mill in Partapur area of Meerut. They don’t have walkie-talkies like their counterparts in Sambhal, but they have been living out their days in a makeshift tent equipped with binoculars, bedding arrangements, coolers and television screens beaming footage from the premises of the building.

This is one of the gathbandhan watch teams, and they are deployed outside an Election Commission EVM strongroom to ensure that the EVMs are safe.

Since the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections concluded Sunday, viral photographs and videos from UP have alleged unauthorised transportation of EVMs, with some even claiming that those stored in EC strongrooms are being replaced.

Coming days before the results of one of the ugliest, longest elections are announced Thursday, the reports have caused quite a stir.

But since Day One of the polls, the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) coalition, rattled by similar allegations from past elections, has had workers deployed at each of the EC strongrooms in UP to prevent any such attempts.

With the motto “Ek bhi vote ghatne na paye, ek bhi vote batne na paye [Let no vote be reduced or divided]”, they appointed “booth rakshaks” in each constituency and trained them in EVM functioning, besides EC rules and regulations at the district and block level.

Also read: Kumaraswamy, expected to meet opposition leaders over EVM issue in Delhi, cancels trip

Since Phase One

The group of 18 started their expedition at 6.30 pm on 11 April — over an hour after polling in Meerut and 90 other Lok Sabha constituencies came to a close and EVMs were moved from polling centres to EC strongrooms. In three shifts, manned by six members each, the team has been keeping track of all movement outside the strongroom on their watch.

“There are around four workers from the RLD, four-five from the SP and the rest from the BSP,” Subhash Pradhan, a BSP leader from Meerut who is part of this team, told ThePrint.

A member of the gathbandhan watch team deployed outside Election Commission EVM storage rooms | By special arrangement

Pradhan said the footage on their TV had been sourced with the EC’s permission from cameras installed by the poll panel.

“We will be here till the counting of votes takes place on 23 May. We are not sure about the administration’s ability to ensure the safety of EVMs. You must have read reports about how there have been attempts to replace and tamper with EVMs,” he said.

In light of the tampering and replacement allegations, the gathbandhan‘s candidate Afzal Ansari, a BSP member, organised a sit-in protest Monday, alleging that there was an attempt to replace EVMs.

Ansari told ThePrint that his protest ended early Tuesday after an agreement was reached with EC officials and the administration.

“The deployment of five people from the party, one for each of the five assembly segments in the constituency, has been allowed inside the building that houses the strongrooms [not the strongrooms itself]. Teams of five people will keep a watch in three shifts — 6 am to 2 pm, 2 pm to 10 pm, and 10 pm to 6 am,” he said.

The EC admitted that it had allowed party representatives inside the premises of the building to ensure the strongrooms are not breached, as it issued a statement Tuesday to deny the allegations of tampering.

“Polled EVMs and VVPATs were sealed properly in front of political parties [and] candidates in videography,” news agency ANI quoted the EC as saying.

“CCTV cameras are installed… Candidates are allowed to keep watch on strongroom… at a time and at a point one representative of each candidate 24 ×7 [sic],” the EC said.

The BSP’s coalition partner SP added that it had issued directives to district presidents and workers to take position near EVM strongrooms to keep vigil. In three eight-hour-long shifts, the teams are supposed to be stationed as close to the strongrooms as possible, the SP leaders said.

“This issue [of EVM tampering] has been raised since 2009, and it has only gained momentum in the last two elections. A demand has risen from several quarters to replace EVMs with ballot paper…” said SP Uttar Pradesh president Naresh Uttam.

“Questions are being raised in many districts about the safety of EVMs before the counting of votes — strong rooms are being opened, EVMs which EC claims were not used are being brought in,” he added.

Also read: Congress puts plan in motion to guard EVMs as Priyanka Gandhi sends message of ‘hope’

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  1. They did everything…but nothing seemed wrong…still they blamed the EVM… still they have a swathe of supporters…with all the obvious serious character flaws in people like prakash raj, knhayya kumar and co people find it very important to follow and support them… what can be done to such a people…i dont think we deserve any hardwork by anybody… let everything stop and let us just rot – may be that will make the media happy. what a rotten set of power people we have in this country.

  2. ‘Trust but verify ‘, is a Russian proverb. Here there is no trust. EC’s bias is well known. So vigil is the only alternative. Second, the matching of 5 VVPATs with EVMs in 5 polling booths in each assembly constituency should be done in front of representatives of parties. The results will reveal the truth. Let fairness and transparency prevail.

  3. As the opportunity to Loot turns into Sour grapes EVM becomes victim to Mahagh(otala)at bandhan last ditch attempts to grab power.

  4. Irrespective of whether they lose or win, they have every right to be paranoid . You will also be so, if your Paap is a contesting in this election.

  5. Citizen Mukherjee has fired a shot across the bows of the ECI that sounds like a thunderclap.

    • After all he is congress man and hasn’t given up hope to be PM of India. He is old but not out from politics and having donned presidents post he should have retired. He is still dreaming.

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