EVM manipulation allegations in Mumbai Election: Officials refute claims

“The EVM is a standalone system with robust administrative safeguards. It is not programmable and has no wireless communication capabilities. The claim that an OTP is required to unlock it is entirely false,” Suryavanshi stated.

| Updated: 16 June, 2024 8:34 pm IST

NEW DELHI: In response to allegations of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) manipulation during the recent Lok Sabha elections, officials have strongly denied the claims. Vandana Suryavanshi, the Returning Officer for the Mumbai North West constituency, addressed the issue in a press conference on Sunday.

“The EVM is a standalone system with robust administrative safeguards. It is not programmable and has no wireless communication capabilities. The claim that an OTP is required to unlock it is entirely false,” Suryavanshi stated.

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Police have booked Pandilkar under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly using a mobile phone at the Goregaon counting center. The complaint was lodged by polling personnel Dinesh Gurav after an independent candidate reported seeing Pandilkar with a mobile phone.

“The mobile phone in question belonged to Dinesh Gurav, the data entry operator for Jogeshwari assembly constituency. It was found in the hands of an unauthorized person, and appropriate action is being taken,” Suryavanshi clarified. She emphasised that the OTP mentioned in reports is related to the data entry system, not the EVMs used for vote counting.

Suryavanshi also noted that neither Waikar nor the losing candidate, Amol Kirtikar of Shiv Sena (UBT), requested a recount. However, they did request verification of invalid postal ballots, which was conducted. She assured that the election process included advanced technical features and robust safeguards to prevent any manipulation.

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Despite these reassurances, opposition leaders have raised concerns about the transparency of the electoral process. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticized the EVMs, calling them a “black box” and questioning the accountability of election institutions. Shiv Sena UBT leader Aaditya Thackeray and Priyanka Chaturvedi also demanded access to CCTV footage from the counting center, which has been denied without a court order.

“The government is committed to transparency in the electoral process. We have issued a notice to *Mid-day* under sections 499 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code for defamation and spreading false news,” Suryavanshi added.

As the investigation continues, the Mumbai District Election Officer has reaffirmed that EVMs used in the elections are secure and not susceptible to external tampering. “EVMs are stand-alone devices without any wired or wireless connectivity to external units. Advanced technical features and robust administrative safeguards ensure the integrity of the voting process,” the officer stated.

The controversy has sparked a wider debate on electoral transparency and the need for stringent safeguards to maintain public trust in the democratic process.

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