A day after AAP alleged that returning officer of Gill constituency, along with 7-8 unauthorised persons, had trespassed into the strong room, the party’s Gill candidate Jiwan Singh Sanghowal questioned the inquiry conducted by administration officials and called its report “untrue”.
Following AAP allegations, a team comprising additional deputy commissioner Mahinderpal Gupta and Additional DCP Surinder Lamba visited the strong room at Punjab Agricultural University along with Sangowal. The official release by Ludhiana chief election officer Ravi Bhagat said “no evidence proving trespass was found after scanning of CCTV footage and allegations are baseless”.
A video was also released to the media by Bhagat in which Sanghowal could be seen replying in affirmative when asked by the additional DCP if he was satisfied with the security arrangements. AAP senior leader HS Phoolka and Sanghowal had demanded an FIR against Gill returning officer Gagandeep Singh Virk and his suspension.
In a written statement Tuesday, AAP said the inquiry report was “totally untrue”, calling it an attempt to “hush up the matter and save the erring RO”.
Sanghowal claimed the “RO was allowed to enter the security premises along with 7-8 unauthorised persons without informing AAP volunteers deputed to keep vigil, which can be proved from the footage of CCTV cameras and the enquiring officers also admitted this.” “This is clearly a breach of security by unauthorised persons and RO,” he said.
Sanghowal also alleged that the additional DCP and ADC tried to “get desired statement from him forcibly”. “ADCP and ADC tried to dictate wanted statements to us which we refused and no footage of CCTV was shown to us,” he claimed.
“When the strong room was already sealed after storing the EVMs, why was the returning officer moving inside the cordoned off area with the sealing stamp and related material,” questioned Sanghowal.
He again demanded the registration of FIR against the RO. He also demanded his replacement at the earliest.
Strong room seal intact, says admn
Meanwhile, Election Commission officials maintained that the “seal of strong room has been found intact”.
Prabhdeep Singh Nathowal, district public relations officer, said, “The entire team of AAP, including Sanghowal, visited spot with us Tuesday and when asked if they are satisfied with security arrangements, they replied in the affirmative. CCTV was also checked and strong room seal was found intact. Later, the ADC requested AAP representatives to record official statement, but none of them did so and left the spot. CRPF is also deployed along with Punjab Police for security outside strong rooms.”