The Election Commission of India (ECI) suspended four officials, including the presiding officer of No. 149- Indira M.V. School of LAC 1 Ratabari(SC), after an electronic voting machine (EVM) was found in the car of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in Assam following the second phase of voting in the state on Thursday last. The poll body said in a statement that the polled EVM, with Ballot Unit (BU), Control Unit (CU) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) was found with its seal undamaged, adding that all the items have been deposited in the strong room.
"Although the seals of the EVM were found intact, it has nevertheless been decided to do a re-poll at No. 149- Indira M.V. School of LAC 1 Ratabari (SC) as an added precaution. A report has also been sought from the Special Observer," the statement read.
The polling party, consisting of the presiding officer and three police personnel, hailed a vehicle as the car they had been allotted broke down as they were going to the centre to deposit machine, the commission said. “As they slowed down, they were surrounded by a mob of about 50 people which started pelting stones at them. The mob also started abusing them and did not allow the vehicle to pass. When they asked the leader of the mob, he replied that the car they were travelling was the vehicle of Sri Krishnendu Paul who is a contesting as a BJP candidate of a neighbouring constituency and he levelled allegations that the EVM was being taken to be tampered with,” the statement said.
“It was only then that they realised that something was amiss and alerted the Sector Officer. However, a larger crowd had gathered by then and they were attacked and held hostage by a mob along with the EVM in the vehicle alleging that the EVM was being taken to be tampered with,” it added. The poll body said that the district election officer (DEO) and the superintendent of police of Karimganj reached the spot in Kanaishil area after receiving the news. The first polling officer was found missing and the EVMs and the remaining party were escorted safely from the area and taken into control of the DEO. Overnight search operations were also conducted to find the missing first polling officer, who was hiding nearby.
Assam underwent polling for the second phase for 39 constituencies across 13 districts on Thursday last. A 74.76 per cent voter turnout was witnessed in the second phase of polling.