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Friday, April 16, 2021

Tamil Nadu: Corporation staff carrying EVMs on two-wheelers caught by public in Velachery; EC orders probe

Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said the machines were reserved ones, not the polled EVMs.

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai |
Updated: April 7, 2021 5:52:20 pm
The two persons were carrying four voting machines, including two VVPAT machines, on their two-wheeler. (Source: Videograb)

Tension prevailed in Tamil Nadu’s Velachery area on Tuesday evening after some men wearing ‘Polling Official’ badges were found carrying four electronic voting machines, including two VVPAT machines, on two-wheelers. It is reported that the ‘poll officials’ were corporation staffers.

The Election Commission has suspended the three officials besides ordering an investigation into the incident.

Apparently one of the machines fell on the road when the men were riding near the Taramani main road and as they attempted to lift it, they were caught by a passer-by who stopped them with the help of local residents. The officials were also reported to have been carrying some cash.

The public caught hold of the men near Taramani main road and handed them over to the police. As the word of ‘poll officials’ transporting the machines on two-wheelers spread across the constituency, members of Opposition DMK and Congress arrived in the area and were involved in an argument with local police personnel.

Members of the opposition parties and the public staged a road blockade, demanding immediate arrest of the officials. The police personnel tried to pacify them and took the officials to the police station for interrogation.

Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said the machines were reserved ones, not the polled EVMs. He added that as per the preliminary verbal report of the district electoral officer, two of his staff have committed the mistake, adding that they initiate strict action for any violation of the SOPs for EVM transportation.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, Velachery Returning Officer V R Subbulakshmi said that three officials, including a corporation worker, have been suspended by the EC and they are carrying out a detailed investigation into the incident.

“Two ballot units, a control unit and a VVPAT machine were being carried by those officials. The ballot units and the control unit were reserved ones that were to be used in case of a technical snag in the designated machines. The VVPAT was used in a mock poll and it was a defective piece. After the polling ended, the officials were instructed to hand over the polled EVMs in Anna University and the unpolled ones to our strong room set up at a school in Tiruvanmaiyur. The officials should transfer the machines only with police protection in a lorry to the Anna University. They should check everything and then return to transfer the remaining unused machines to the strong room. Instead of following this process, the officials were carrying the unused ones in a two-wheeler which is against EC rules,” she said.

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