The heavily armed men — both paramilitary and police — guarding the premises where the EVMs are stored in Ghaziabad are waging a one-sided battle against an “intruder” that they came least prepared for— rats.
While planning the security detail for the compound, officials hadn’t taken into account the rodents who have managed to make their way into the compound. The district administration admitted that the biggest threat to free and fair elections in Ghaziabad currently is the possibility of these rats harming the EVMs by chewing through wires and electronic circuits.
On April 10, Ghaziabad had gone to polls along with Delhi and Gurgaon to polls. The Ghaziabad seat is witnessing a fiercely fought and keenly watched contest this time with the BJP’s General V K Singh, AAP’s Shazia Ilmi, Congress’s Raj Babbar and BSP’s Mukul Upadhyay in the fray.
After the polls, officials had brought the EVM machines to a pre-designated strong room that was located near a wholesale wheat market.
Officials said they had chosen the location of the strong room taking into account the security protocol, but had not factored in trouble of the rodent kind.
“We had taken all possible measures to protect the EVMs. We realise how important it is to ensure that the EVMs are not harmed in any way. But rodent trouble was something we had not expected at all,” admitted a senior official of the Ghaziabad district administration.
With counting scheduled to take place on May 16, district magistrate SVS Ranga Rao said measures have been taken to combat the rodents. The district administration hastily issued an order to bolster security measures — rat poison is now the weapon of choice for security personnel here.
“Directions have been issued to officials to use 25 packets of rat poisons in each room,” Rao said. But the whole process is not going to be an easy one. In order for the strong rooms to be opened, due procedure has to be followed. These would include mandatory presence of all candidates in fray from that constituency along with their poll agents. Then, in the presence of a CRPF commander, police force, the returning officer and other senior officials, the room can be opened and the entire process will have to be videographed. Meanwhile, the administration officials are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping that the rats don’t snack on the wires of the EVMs .