Amid the EVM-hacking fiasco triggered by a press conference by a US-based ‘expert’, Chief Election Commissioner of India Sunil Arora at an event in Delhi, on 24 January, clarified that “we are not going back to the era of ballot papers.”
Earlier, Electronic Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) in a letter to the Election Commission of India (ECI) had said Syed Shuja, the self-proclaimed cyber expert who made explosive claims in London over EVMs and election rigging in India was never an employee of the corporation.
Meanwhile, the ECI had written to the Delhi Police requesting them to lodge an FIR and investigate the statement made by Shuja.
Shuja, in a press conference held in London on Monday, 21 January had claimed to be a part of ECIL, the corporation that designed the EVMs used in Indian elections. He had also claimed that the EVMs could be hacked and the 2014 general elections in India were rigged.
- In the press conference, Shuja alleged that 2014 Lok Sabha elections were rigged and Congress lost 201 seats in 2014 because of the tampering
- He also claimed that Gopinath Munde was murdered as he was aware of EVM hacking
- He also claimed that slain journalist Gauri Lankesh agreed to run the story for him, but she was killed
- Shuja said that other than the BJP, the SP, BSP and the AAP too approached him to know if EVMs could be hacked
- He said he fled India in 2014 because he felt threatened in the country after the killing of some of his team members
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Election Commission’s Stance on Allegations
The Election Commission has insisted that EVMs cannot be hacked, noting that the EVMs can’t be tampered with remotely since they don’t have networking devices which can be accessed by Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Tampering would therefore require physically opening up the machine, which the EC claims cannot be done without them knowing. The Election Commission has also cited the efforts made to randomise which EVMs are used for which constituencies, and insist they will use VVPAT along with all EVMs to ensure transparency.
The Election Commission even organised a hackathon in June 2017 where they challenged doubters to hack one of their EVMs, but only two parties, the NCP and the CPM participated. Neither ended up taking the challenge because of the conditions imposed by the EVM, and other parties had refused to take part after the EC said they couldn’t tamper with the motherboard of the EVMs.
Past Allegations of EVM-Tampering
Questions over manipulation of Electronic Voting Machines have been a fixture of mainstream Indian politics since 2009, when senior BJP leader LK Advani alleged that EVMs weren’t foolproof. Current BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao wrote an entire book on the topic in 2010, in which Advani noted that many countries like Germany had banned their use.
After the BJP came to power in the Centre in 2014, Opposition parties took up the baton, alleging tampering of EVMs at regular intervals.
The most recent example of this was when the AAP and the Congress raised concerns about malfunctions and alleged attempts to tamper with EVMs during the recent round of state elections. Three percent of EVMs in Madhya Pradesh experienced glitches during the elections in November 2018, and there were a string of suspicious incidents in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan involving EVMs.
US-Based Cyber Expert to Demonstrate EVM Hacking Soon
A US-based cyber expert, who has designed EVMs used in India, is set to demonstrate that the machines can be hacked.
Live from London: Expert Who Designed EVMs Show How to 'Hack' Them
A US-based cyber expert, Syed Shuja, who has designed Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) used in India, is holding a press conference in London claiming that he can demonstrate how the machines can be hacked.
Shuja, who is addressing the meet via a video conference claims that he was attacked a few days ago. He is showing how the hacking can be done, supposedly using EVMs actually used in recent elections, and will say which elections have been tampered with.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal is also present at the event.