EC stays firm on using EVMs from Gujarat in J&K

In a snub to some political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, the Election Commission has overruled objections raised by them over the issue of lifting of electronic voting machines from Gujarat.

Sources told Deccan Herald the commission categorically told the state government that the EVMs lying in different districts of Gujarat were 100 per cent tamperproof.
“It (EC) has asked the State Election Department to direct the district electoral officers to immediately lift the EVMs from Gujarat,” they said.

After the EC directive, the state authorities have deputed teams under tight security arrangements to districts in Gujarat to get the EVMs.

Sources said the EC directed the state authorities to complete the process of lifting the EVMs in 10 days so that trials can be conducted on time.

“The EVMs are manufactured in Bangalore and then distributed to districts through chief electoral officers at the time of elections, both Lok Sabha and Assembly,” they said.

The EVMs being brought from Gujarat are new ones equipped with several features capable of detecting rigging and bogus voting.

The Assembly elections in J&K are due in November-December this year and a total of 15,000 EVMs have to be brought from Gujarat. A total of 10,015 polling stations are being set up by the State Election Department for 87 Assembly constituencies – 46 in Kashmir, 37 in Jammu and four in Ladakh.

Sources said trial check of the EVMs before political parties, candidates and their representatives will be held as soon as the EVMs are transported here.

The EC’s move to use EVMs from Gujarat in J&K recently raised eyebrows in mainstream political parties. The ruling National Conference (NC) had hinted at a possible conspiracy on the EVMs being imported from Gujarat, home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and not from any neighbouring state.

NC general secretary and Rural Development Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar had said it will surely raise suspicion when all the EVMs were being imported from Gujarat and not from a neighbouring state. 

“Except the BJP, every single party in J&K has expressed reservation on this move,” he said.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party chief spokesman Naeem Akhter had said that it is not only the elections in J&K but also the credibility of India that is at stake while conducting the polls.

“The Centre should prevent even a small apprehension that can raise question over its credibility while conducting elections in J&K. We have examples in front of us, so they should address even a small area of doubt, which can raise suspicion regarding the conduct of elections here,” he had said.

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