Show cause notices have been issued to select polling officers in connection with a complaint raised by the Congress after the Madhya Pradesh polls over alleged security lapses inside strong rooms meant for storing Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The officers have been accused of mishandling EVMs that were not used in the polling process.
Following the complaint, sources told ANI that the Election Commission has ordered the removal of returning officer Vikas Singh of Khurai constituency in Sagar district. The removal of Singh came after the Congress complained that the EVMs reached the district headquarters on November 30, about 48 hours after polling ended.
According to sources, the Congress complained about illegalities related to deposits of EVMs in the strong room and irregularities in handling reserve EVMs in Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections held on November 28.
Sources further stated that the strong rooms for all assembly constituencies of Satna district are under the scanner of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) in the inner level, the SAF at the second level and the district police in the periphery.
It added that CCTV cameras had been placed in the premises so that candidates or their agents can keep a check at the entrance gate of strong rooms.
Briefing about the arrangements, the source said that far from the strongroom area, stand-alone rooms were made in which Returning Officers used to store other election-related materials like packing boxes or other materials used to pack EVMs after polling.
The source also revealed that on November 30 late evening, the Returning Officer's team of 65-Maiher assembly constituency went to their storeroom to keep empty boxes, which was captured by a CCTV installed in the campus.
In response to a complaint by the Congress regarding lack of security in the strongroom, sources divulged that despite a power failure for a short while, CCTV cameras outside the gate of the strongrooms was functional right from the time of sealing. They further said that it was never directed to shut the CCTV cameras. It has also been learnt that no person visited the strong room during the time of power cut which was secured as per norms.
Sources also said that CCTV cameras installed to monitor the strong room gate, movement of visitors was functional from sealing of strong room on November 29 till November 30 morning up to 8:19 am when it got shut down due to a power cut. It was restored at 9:35 am on November 30.
However, the administration said these were standby EVMs to be used in case of a technical snag during polling.
Senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Kamal Nath, and Kapil Sibal had met EC officials recently and raised a number of issues, including EVM-related complaints in Madhya Pradesh.
Kamal Nath had also met the Chief Election Officer in New Delhi and demanded that EVMs be protected in a secure place and counting be done in an impartial and fair manner.
Results of the Madhya Pradesh assembly polls will be declared on December 11. (ANI)