The presence of machines in the hotel because of the lack of management of polling officials led to the rumor that escalated to the involvement of extra EVMs in the polling.
On May 07, 2019, the fifth phase of voting in Bihar was held in Muzzafarpur parliamentary constituency for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Around 58 percent of the total voters turned out to cast the vote. The voter count was enough to get the Muzaffarpur in headlines following which another shocking news is gaining momentum featuring the EVMs.
During the elections, there was a frenetic mix of EVM and VVPAT machines that was allegedly recovered from a hotel. The hotel was close to the polling booth. After the polling agents and officials in the polling booth realized that the sector Magistrate had six EVM machines, they started making a ruckus, fearing the disturbance.
The various news channels shared the news in a negative way alleging the polling officials and the Election Commission for the discrepancy in the elections. The news got into controversies with alleging the polling officials in the state and their irresponsible attitude.
Hindi Daily Patrika claimed headlined their story "Video..Muzzafarpur: Used EVM and VVPAT found in a hotel which created a furore, investigation going on".
The incident also called for opposition parties who created a mess at the site of polling making havoc without the investigation.
SDO Kundan Kumar, who arrived at the spot, captured the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) after receiving information of the EVMs in the hotel.
Kumar said that the recovery of EVMs and VVPATS from the hotel illegally is a matter of action on the sector magistrate, terming it as major negligence in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. A show-cause notice has also has been issued to EVM's custodian sector magistrate Avadhesh Kumar.
Following the case, District Magistrate of Muzaffarpur Alok Rajan Gosh said that some reserve EVMs were given to the sector officer so that they could be changed provided there is any malfunction. After replacing EVM machines, he should not have taken machines back to the hotels, violating the rule. The action called for the violation of the rules and departmental scrutiny. After changing EVM, he had two ballot units, one control unit and two VVPAT machines.
The EVMs were reserved EVMs which are used if any EVM gets malfunctioned. The EVM and VVPATs recovered from the hotel were reserved for the replacement. The placing of EVMs in the hotel was against the rule but the intent behind the action was not malicious as explained by the officer in the ANI's video.
The action was taken against the officer's after the tragedy, `local SDO Kundan Kumar reached there and took possession of EVM machines. Muzaffarpur District collector Alok Ranjan Ghosh has investigated the matter. Sector Magistrate Avadhesh Kumar has also issued a show cause notices for the negligence of the polling officials of keeping the EVMs in the hotels which violated the rule.
Conclusion: The presence of machines in the hotel because of the lack of management of polling officials led to the rumor that escalated to the involvement of extra EVMs in the polling. The sector Magistrate Avadhesh Kumar, who was the custodian of EVM, placed the 6 Electronic Voting Machines as a backup so that if EVM machines are damaged in a polling booth, it can be changed immediately. During the same logistics, the driver of the car carrying the EVM was also inclined to vote which was a good thing. After that Avadesh Kumar took the EVM machines in a hotel near the polling booth station. which, though done with positive intent, was seen as an intent to violate the rule.
Whatever happened in this entire episode was unintended as the "EVMs were kept for any mishappening in the polling booth."
Any such incidents that raise a question on the credibility of EVM or the polling booth official create mistrust in the public. The dignity of the Election Commission comes at stake and there is a fear to free and fair conduct of elections which is the root of the world's biggest democracy.
Fact Hunt is an independent social journalism platform to counter fake news. You can connect with other users to share and discuss on any trending and controversial stories.