Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal alleged on Monday that the Returning Officer (RO) allowed some people to remove Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which were kept at a strong room in a college building in Nabha.
However, the district administration claimed that “nothing should be doubted” as the EVMs lying on the premises were the reserve machines for the already held 2015 municipal polls in the state. Claiming that the EVMs of 2017 assembly polls were “safe and intact”, district official said that other machines were being removed to make space for the counting on March 11.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in his first tweet on Monday said, “This is absolutely shocking. Punjab officials trying to remove EVM machines”. In another tweet, Kejriwal said “officers entered strongroom on the pretext of taking some papers but started removing EVMs”.
AAP’s organisational building head and senior leader Durgesh Pathak also tweeted, saying, “RO allowed 4 people to enter the strong room where EVM machines are kept to take some papers, but they tried to move boxes with EVM machines.”
AAP, which is eyeing to wrest power in Punjab also lodged a complaint with Punjab Chief Electoral Officer VK Singh, following which a report was sought from Patiala District Election Officer cum Deputy Commissioner Ramvir Singh.
The complaint was lodged by AAP candidate from Nabha Gurdev Singh Mann, DC Ramvir Singh said, adding there was no foul play in the incident.“Nothing should be doubted,” he said.
“The EVMs which were being removed, were the unused machines of 2015 Municipal polls and they were being shifted to make space for the March 11 counting of votes,” he said, adding that the EVMs for 2017 assembly polls are safe.
The strong room was visited jointly by the DEO and ADEO in presence of Gurdev Mann, Ramvir said. After checking the details of the carrying cases, EVMs and the address tags, it was established that the EVMs were ECIL make of 2001, 2006 and 2007 which had been used in the Municipal Council Elections held in 2015 and the step was taken to make some space in the room.
Allegations started pouring on twitter when AAP candidate from Nabha Gurdev Singh Mann reached Government College of Physical Education, Patiala, after he received a call from the office of the returning officer that they wanted to shift certain documents related to the Panchayat Department.
However, Mann got apprehensive when he saw that over three dozen trunks were being moved outside following which he objected to the move.He demanded the opening of the trunks and found that the trunks were loaded with EVMs. He got the process halted and brought the matter to the notice of District Election Officer Ramvir Singh.