EC team to re-visit Amingaon strong room three days before counting
Following a complaint lodged by the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) and Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP for Assam, Ripun Bora, a two-member team of the Election Commission of India (ECI), led by senior official of ECI, OP Sahani, came to inspect the strong room established at a private location where “unused EVMs” were brought for storage on Sunday (28th April). Congress candidate for the Gauhati Lok Sabha constituency, Bobbeeta Sharma, had also raised a complaint on the matter.
The two-member team visited the strong room in Amingaon area of Kamrup (Rural) district and it has promised to pay another visit to the area before the counting begins for the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections.
Responding to the complaint lodged by the members of Assam Congress, Mukesh Sahu, CEO Assam, had previously stated that those EVMs were stored in the centre storage facility and were intended to be transported to other states.
APCC general secretary Diganta Chaudhury told G Plus, “So far, we have not received any formal letter from ECI on the results of the inspection, but hope that they would soon provide us something in writing.
“Post the recent inspection, the ECI team had sealed all the unused EVMs and permitted our representatives to guard them.”
Chaudhury further noted that the team is expected to re-visit the strong room in Amingaon three days before the counting and will stay there until the entire process is over.
“The team even raised concern about the dilapidated condition of the strong room and questioned the Kamrup (R) deputy commissioner, Kamal Kumar Baishya, on the appalling situation prevailing in and around the room.
They also voiced serious concerns about the ‘three-tier security arrangements’ that were specifically made to keep the strong room safe and asked Baishya whether the room is going to last till the counting,” Chaudhury said.
Following a tipoff about improper movement of trucks loaded with “unused EVMs” in Amingaon on Sunday, APCC moved the ECI to lodge a formal complaint on the issue.
The EVMs were allegedly shifted from different parts of the state to a private location, Himatsingka Workshop, which is situated opposite the office of the deputy commissioner, Kamrup (Rural).
The office is currently being used as one of the strong rooms established to store the used EVMs in some parts of the Gauhati LS constituency.
Prior to the inspection carried out by ECI, Chaudhury, in a letter sent to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Assam said: “Around 10.35 pm on 28.04.2019, we received telephonic information that small trucks laden with so called ‘unused EVM’s’ are suddenly being brought to a private location, popularly referred to as Himatsingka Workshop situated opposite the Office of Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Rural).
“Local sources have informed our party sources that several truck loads of such commodities were deposited in the said godown.”
The letter also read: “Thereafter as other such truck laden ‘unused EVMs’ continued to reach the said location unabated, the authorities then allowed the storage of these machines in a place adjacent to the Strong Room in the jurisdiction of the DC, Kamrup (R).
“Who gave permission for such action?”
In a separate letter to the Chief Election Commissioner of India, Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Ripun Bora said: “This entire exercise of the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup (R) in the name of storing the so called unused EVMs has created strong doubt about manipulation of EVM.”
Bora also alleged that Kamrup (R) deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner Mayuri Ojha were violating the model code of conduct (MCC) by performing election duties in their home district.
Mayuri is the daughter of BJP candidate for the Gauhati Lok Sabha seat Queen Ojha.
However, the BJP candidate has reportedly rubbished all the allegations made against her daughter by saying that her daughter was on leave and out of Guwahati.