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Mahakalpada EVMs were ‘unused’ ones

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau

Kendrapara Apr 19:

All the ten EVM boxes kept overnight at the residence of the BDO of Marsaghai at Kendrapara in Odisha, which triggered outrage and violence on Friday, were unused ones and were reportedly meant for demo purpose.

This was the official finding during a check done by the election observers in the presence of Congress and BJP candidates of three constituencies including Mahakalpada, after a daylong turmoil and violence in the district headquarters town on Friday.

Injured Marsaghai BDO SK Pati ( EMS pic)
Injured Marsaghai BDO SK Pati ( EMS pic)

Election observers Ramesh Kaul and Manish Ranjan, who conducted the check in presence of several Congress and BJP candidates, rejected allegations that these were tampered with or were stored by the BDO for manipulation of votes.

However, the collector of Kendrapara Dr Nitin B Jawale said it was improper on the part of the BDO to have kept the EVMs at his residence and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against him.

“The EVMs spotted in front of the quarters were reserve machines. These had been dispatched to various booths of Mahakalpada assembly constituency so that it could be put to use when any EVM turned dysfunctional. There was no mala-fide intention in the storing of the EVMs. However it should have been sent to the strong room earlier. The concerned BDO has been asked to explain why the EVMs had not been dispatched to the strong room”, Dr Jawale said.

On Friday morning an angry mob  which mainly comprised BJP and Congress supporters ransacked the residence of the BDO Sushant Kumar Pati, beat him up and a number of others on the suspicion that the EVMs were illegally stored at the BDO’s residence for vote manipulation.

Later police arrived to rescued him from the mob’s fury.A section of senior civil and police officials who rushed to the spot to control the situation were also allegedly heckled by the angry mob. The busy Cuttack-Chandballi state highway and Paradip-Daitary expressway were also blocked by the mob.

Assurances by the district collector and SP as well as the direction issued by the chief electoral officer (CEO)  Dr Mona Sharma to the observers, the revenue divisional commissioner to videograph the EVMs- check the serial numbers to verify whether they were used or reserve ones, failed to convince the agitated workers of the BJP and the Congress.

While former minister and the BJD candidate in Mahakalpada Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak has termed Friday’s violence by BJP supporters, a desperate act in anticipation of defeat, his BJP rival in the constituency Bijoy Mohapatra has demanded a thorough probe into the entire poll process in Mahakalpada, alleging foul play at all levels to prevent him from winning.