Cong demands access to CCTV footage

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Ripun reminds alleged shipment of EVMs from Tezpur to Amingaon strong room in 2019 LS polls

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, April 7: In view of alleged EVM manipulation by ruling BJP during the assembly polls, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) on Wednesday demanded the Election Commission of India (ECI) to make available CCTV feed from strong room for all the contesting candidates from 126 assembly constituencies of the state.

APCC chief Ripun Bora has written to the state’s chief electoral officer (CEO) Nitin Khade, requesting him to provide access or link of the CCTV surveillance of strong rooms to the contesting candidates of all constituencies.

“Considering several unwanted incidents already reported in connection with EVMs in several places during different election phases, it has now become very much essential to ensure protection of the EVMs from rigging. 24X7 strong room agents’ surveillance facilities must be there and providing access to the CCTV surveillance will definitely ensure holding of the election in a fair and impartial manner,” Bora said in the letter.

Even as the Congress had written to the CEO on March 28 requesting permission for installing CCTV cameras in the premises allotted to party candidates in front of the strong rooms, but there has been no response to it till now, he said.

Bora accused the ECI of acting “as per instructions of the BJP” during the electoral process. “After the second phase, when many issues relating to EVMs surfaced, the EC assured us that no such incident would take place in the third phase. But we are getting reports of people detecting EVMs being transported in unauthorised vehicles during the last phase of assembly polls yesterday,” Bora said addressing a press conference at Rajiv Bhawan here.

“We thought EC would learn from its mistakes, but we were wrong. It proves that EC functions as per the instructions of the BJP. It is not impartial,” Bora said

“The ECI should clarify under what circumstances the EVMs were being transported by election officials allegedly without security personnel at several places while voting for the third phase of polls was underway yesterday,” Bora said.

Referring to an incident involving alleged shipment of truckloads of EVMs from Tezpur to a strong room in Amingaon during 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Bora said, strong rooms can be manipulated by the BJP as “It is losing and now wants to win by any means”.

“There should not be any problem in giving access to CCTV feed as it is already being monitored by the returning officer from his office. So technically it can be done. Moreover, it is not illegal,” he said.

“This time, awareness among people is high. They are detecting anomalies and transportation of EVMs in private cars across the state. We appeal to them to remain vigilant outside strong rooms so that no one can manipulate the EVMs stored there,” Bora also said.

Referring to untoward incidents reported from Barkehtri, Jalukbari, East Guwahati and West Guwahati on Tuesday, he demanded proper action against the guilty.

“Gauhati East BJP candidate and minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya was found to have misbehaved with a police officer. Why has no action been initiated against him? The Patharkandi BJP MLA’s car was used to carry EVM machines and he has not been arrested yet,” Bora alleged.

Talking about the poll prospects, the state Congress chief said that the opposition’s Grand Alliance will win over 100 seats out of 126 as per ‘independent’ surveys done by some agencies.

Bora thanked the people of the state for coming out to vote in large numbers, saying that the “third phase of election signals an atmosphere of change”.

“I propose a vote of thanks to all individuals who helped us in the assembly elections 2021,” he said.

He also thanked the media for reporting and publishing unbiased and truthful news, even from ‘inaccessible areas of the state’.

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