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‘Impartial probe’ being held into voter data theft charges, says Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai

A day after the Election Commission ordered that two Bengaluru officials be suspended, CM Basavaraj Bommai said that ‘any officer or organisation or agency found guilty will be punished’.

An all-party meeting is to be held with the leaders of the opposition in the State Legislative Assembly and the State Legislative Council. (File)

In the wake of the Election Commission of India (ECI) ordering the suspension of two officials linked to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in connection with allegations of illegal voter data collection, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the state government is carrying out an impartial probe into the charges.

The officials were suspended for allowing the impersonation of block level officers by third parties for voter data collection and awareness activities.

On Saturday, Bommai said the government is probing the controversy “in an impartial manner” and “any officer or organisation or agency found guilty will be punished”.

“Several persons are already arrested in this connection and the inquiry of officials is on. The Election Commission of India has decided to revise the voter’s list where the deletion of names has occurred and the government will welcome it. The election must be held in a free and fair manner,” Bommai said.

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“We will welcome certain steps such as setting right where the names are deleted purposefully at two or three places despite having the voter’s identity card,” he said.

The ECI on Friday issued directions to the Karnataka chief secretary and Karnataka chief electoral officer to suspend two city officials in a case where a private entity allegedly illegally collected voter data in BBMP areas.

“S Rangappa, Additional District Election Officer (ADEO), BBMP, (Central) in charge of 162 Shivajinagar and 169 Chickpet constituencies and K Srinivas, Additional District Election Officer cum-Deputy Commissioner Bengaluru Urban, in charge of 174 Mahadevapura constituency are directed to be immediately placed under suspension and a departmental enquiry be instituted against them,” the ECI said.

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It directed a check of the deletions and additions in the electoral rolls after January 1, 2022, in three constituencies of Shivajinagar, Chickpet and Mahadevapura, and ordered the appointment of special officers from outside BBMP for overseeing and ensuring the purity of electoral rolls.

On November 17, the ECI had received reports that NGO Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust was collecting voter data in Bengaluru under the garb of voter awareness activities by way of house-to-house surveys in BBMP areas.

The ECI said that it had also received complaints from political parties regarding the same. It also pointed out that police investigations into two FIRs registered at Kadugodi and Halasuru Gate police stations were going on and “subsequent actions, including arrests, have been made by the police”.

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“An administrative enquiry by Regional Commissioner Bengaluru, Mr. Amlan Biswas has also been ordered. As per the report received, wrong ID cards identifying private individuals as BLOs/BLCs have been found in the three constituencies namely 162 Shivajinagar, 169 Chickpet & 174 Mahadevapura. Three electoral registration officers of BBMP of these three constituencies have also been placed under suspension,” ECI said.

First published on: 26-11-2022 at 16:52 IST
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