Mumbai North West EVM Row: Returning Officer Rubbishes Hacking Allegation, Issues Notice To Newspaper For ‘Spreading Lie & Disinformation’

Mumbai North West EVM Row: Returning Officer Rubbishes Hacking Allegation, Issues Notice To Newspaper For ‘Spreading Lie & Disinformation’

Vandana Suryavanshi, returning officer of Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, was reacting to a report in Mid-day newspaper about a kin of Ravindra Waikar, the Shiv Sena candidate who emerged victorious from the seat by defeating UBT's Amol Kirtikar by an 'extremely thin' margin of 48 votes, using a mobile phone connected to an EVM during vote counting on June 4.

Rahul MUpdated: Sunday, June 16, 2024, 07:16 PM IST
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Vandana Suryavanshi, returning poll officer for Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, during the press conference on June 16 | X | ANI

Mumbai: The returning poll officer for Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, Vandana Suryavanshi, in a press conference held on Sunday (June 16) rubbished the allegations of EVM hacking and also issued a notice to a newspaper for spreading 'disinformation'. The officer said that the Mid-day newspaper published an "extremely incorrect report" and that a notice has been issued to the editor of the newspaper under section 499 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The poll official on Sunday said an EVM was a standalone system with "robust administrative safeguards" to protect it from any kind of manipulation and that there was no need of an OTP to unlock it.

Vandana Suryavanshi, returning officer of Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, was reacting to a report in Mid-day newspaper about a kin of Ravindra Waikar, the Shiv Sena candidate who emerged victorious there by a very thin margin of 48 votes, using a mobile phone connected to an EVM during vote counting on June 4.

"The EVM is a standalone system and there is no need for an OTP to unlock it. It is not programmable and has no wireless communication capabilities. It is a complete lie being spread by a newspaper. We have issued notice to Mid-day newspaper under sections 499, 505 of the Indian Penal Code for defamation and spreading false news," Suryavanshi said in a press conference on Sunday.

As per Vanrai police, Mangesh Pandilkar, brother-in-law of Waikar, was booked under Indian Penal Code section 188 (disobeying official order) on Wednesday for allegedly using a mobile phone at a counting centre in Goregaon on June 4, the day of counting of votes and results of the Lok Sabha Elections 2024.

Speaking at the press conference, Suryavanshi said the personal mobile phone of one Dinesh Gurav, the data entry operator of Jogeshwari assembly constituency, was found in the hands of an unauthorised person and action is being taken in this regard.

"Data entry and vote counting are two different aspects. An OTP enables the ARO to open the encore login system for data entry. The counting process is independent and has nothing to do with unauthorised use of mobile phone, which is an unfortunate incident and is being probed," Suryavanshi added.

"Advance technical features and robust administrative safeguards are in place to rule out any possibility of manipulation. Safeguards include conducting everything in the presence of candidates or their agents," she said.

The official said neither Waikar or losing candidate Amol Kirtikar of the Shiv Sena (UBT) had sought a recount but verification of invalid postal ballots was demanded and it was done. Suryavanshi said CCTV footage in connection with the issue cannot be given unless there are orders from the competent court.

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