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.
Syed Shuja Worked for Electronic Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL)
The expert's name is Syed Shuja. He claims he worked for the ECIL from 2009-2014. He says he is not present at the meeting because he was attacked four days ago.
The Election Commission was invited to be here but are not present, he claims. Political parties were also invited, but only Kapil Sibal from the Congress is attending the event, he adds.
Shuja claims that he was part of a team which designed the EVMs used in the 2014 elections.
He claims he will show how the hacking can be done, supposedly using EVMs actually used in recent elections, and will say which elections have been tampered with.
Shuja clarifies that he and his team were instructed by ECIL to find out if EVMs could be hacked, and find out how to do this.
My Team Was Shot: Shuja
Syed Shuja claims that in April 2014 they realised signals were being emitted from the machines during the Lok Sabha elections.
They tried to set up a meeting with BJP leaders, thinking they could blackmail the BJP with what they knew.
The expert claims when he and his team went to meet a BJP leader in a Hyderabad suburb, the team was shot. Shuja too was also allegedly shot in the attack but survived.
Shuja claims that to cover up the incident, a communal violence incident was 'arranged' in Kishangarh, Hyderabad. His dead colleagues were allegedly passed off as the people killed.
2014 General Elections Were Rigged: Shuja
Syed Shuja alleges that the 2014 general elections were rigged. UP, Gujarat, MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi results were rigged during the general elections, he claims.
The EVMs were hacked by the BJP using a modulator which transmits military-grade frequency, he claims.
Gopinath Munde Murdered As He Was Aware of EVM Hacking, Claims Expert
Syed Shuja, a US-based cyber expert, who has designed EVMs used in India, claims late Maharashtra BJP leader and Union Minister Gopinath Munde was aware of the EVM hacking in 2014.
He also claims the NIA officer investigating Munde's death, Tanzil Ahmed, was planning to file an FIR noting he had been murdered, but was himself killed.
SP, BSP, AAP Approached to Know if EVMs Could be Rigged, Claims Shuja
Syed Shuja claims that other than the BJP, the SP, BSP and the AAP too approached him to know if EVMs could be hacked.
“SP, BSP asked if they can do anything. We contacted Congress, we thought we could help them. The AAP wanted to hack to show the world that EVMs are hackable,” he said.
'We Stopped EVM Hacking in Delhi State Elections 2015'
In Delhi state elections in 2015, we managed to intercept the transmission, resulting in the AAP winning 67 out of 70 seats. Otherwise the BJP would have swept, he claims.
Told The Whole Story to a 'Famous Indian Journalist': Expert
Shuja claims he met a famous Indian journalist and told him the whole story about the EVM rigging. He says the journalist "shouts every night" on TV debates.
Sought Asylum in US: Expert
Syed Shuja claims he is in the US because he was able to claim asylum there. He also said that he submitted proof to the US to get asylum which he claims is with the US authorities.
'BJP Would Have Won Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, MP if My Team Hadn't Intercepted BJP's Attempts'
Shuja claims EVMs have been hacked since 2014 as well. He also alleges if his people hadn't intercepted the BJP attempts to hack in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, they would have won those states as well.
Reliance Jio Helped BJP to Get Low Frequency Signals to Hack EVMs: Shuja
Telecom giant Reliance Jio helped the BJP to get low frequency signals to hack EVMs, claims Syed Shuja.
“Reliance Jio have the network to transmit the data, BJP is the beneficiary. There are nine places in India where there are facilities. The employees don’t know that they are tampering with EVMs. They think they are doing data entry,” alleges Shuja.
Democracy Must Be Protected: Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said that democracy must be protected and that the Opposition parties discussed the issue of EVMs on 19 January.
Will Provide Evidence to Journalists to Back Claims: Expert
In response to a question, Syed Shuja claims he will provide the evidence he submitted to the US authorities for his asylum application to journalists.
AAP Approached Me to Show the World EVMs Could Be Hacked: Expert
When asked if AAP approached him to hack elections, he claims they approached him to be able to demonstrate to the world that this could be done.
Gauri Lankesh Agreed to Run the Story But Was Killed: Expert
Syed Shuja claims slain journalist Gauri Lankesh agreed to run the story for him, but she was killed. He further claims Lankesh filed an RTI to find out who manufactured cables used in the EVMs, following which she was killed.
“She was waiting to run the story, but she was murdered,” he alleged.
Congress Lost 201 Seats in 2014 Due to EVM Tampering, Claims Expert
Syed Shuja said that the Congress lost 201 seats in 2014 due to EVM tampering.
Election Commission Analysing What Legal Action to Take Against 'Expert'
The Election Commission of India, responding to the claims of US-based expert of EVM tampering said that the machines are foolproof and the Commission is currently analysing what legal action to be taken regarding the press conference in London.
“It has come to our notice that an event claiming to demonstrate EVMs used by ECI can be tampered with, has been organised in London. ECI has been wary of becoming a party to this motivated slugfest and stands by empirical facts about foolproof nature of ECI EVMs,” EC said.
“These EVMs are manufactured in Bharat Electronics Ltd & Electronics Corporation of India Ltd under very strict supervisory and security conditions. There are rigorous Standard Operating Procedures observed under supervision of a Committee of technical experts constituted in 2010,” the EC added
“It is being separately examined as to what legal action can and should be taken in the matter,” the Commission said in a statement.
Kapil Sibal Sent to the Event By Congress To Defame the Country: BJP
Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, reacting to the the claims of US-based ‘expert’ of EVM tampering said that the Congress can go to any extent to remove Narendra Modi as the PM.
“Congress has a lot of freelancers, who sometimes reach even Pakistan to take help for removing Modi Ji. They are making a hacking horror show of their possible defeat in the upcoming elections,” he said.
“Kapil Sibal didn't go by accident. He was sent by Congress, by Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. The Congress gets paid to defame the nation, so they needed to send a ‘postman’ at the event,” he added.
Kapil Sibal Attended the Press Conference in Personal Capacity, Says Congress
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, responding to the claims of EVM hacking by Syed Shuja in London, said that the party demands at least 50 percent VVPATs to be used in the 2019 elections and that the Opposition has been demanding the same even before the London press conference.
He also said that the Congress had nothing to do with the press conference and party leader Kapil Sibal went there in his personal capacity.
"Absolutely Rubbish," Says Arun Jaitley on Claims of Election Rigging
Union minister Arun Jaitley, responding to the claims of election rigging by US-based ‘expert’, trained guns at the Congress, saying that the “insanity in the party is increasingly becoming contagious.”
'Worrying Claims,' Says Chandrababu Naidu
Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu said that the claims made at the press conference held in London were “worrying”.
AAP Denies Hacker's Claim That it Contacted Him for Hacking EVMs
The AAP on Monday rejected the claim of the self-proclaimed cyber expert that he was contacted by the party to know about hacking of EVMs, but welcomed his allegation that EVMs could be "tampered".
AAP MLA and party spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj, who demonstrated "tampering" of a replica of an EVM in the Delhi Assembly in 2017, said the party did not contact the cyber expert.
Bhardwaj said that AAP was in contact with “many persons” to demonstrate that EVMs could be “hacked” but denied Shuja was one of them.
“No, we did not contact him,” he said when asked about Shuja's claim.
AAP has always been saying that EVMs can be “tampered” with like any other electronic device, Bhardwaj said
Most of the advanced countries in the world have discontinued the use of EVMs after reports of their tampering, he said.
AAP reiterates that 25 percent of EVMs should be randomly selected for verifying results with voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs). If government cannot implement 100 percent VVPAT, then elections should be conducted using paper ballot, he added.
Gopinath Munde's Nephew Seeks R&AW Probe
NCP leader Dhananjay Munde on Monday, 21 January demanded a probe either by the R&AW or a Supreme Court judge into the death of his uncle and former Union minister Gopinath Munde after Syed Shuja, the self-proclaimed US-based Indian cyber expert, claimed that the BJP leader was "killed" as he was aware of hacking of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
He said those who loved Gopinath Munde had always raised questions over his death wondering "if it actually was an accident or a sabotage".
Munde died in a road accident in New Delhi weeks after the BJP won the 2014 elections.
Congress-sponsored London Event on EVM Hacking Insults 2014 Mandate: RS Prasad
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the Congress of scripting the London press conference on EVM hacking, and rubbished the claims made by self-proclaimed US-based ‘expert’ Syed Shuja as “baseless.
“What was Mr Kapil Sibal doing there? In what capacity was he present there? I believe he was monitoring the situation on behalf of Congress party. Is the Congress-sponsored event designed to insult the popular mandate of 2014?” asked Prasad.
He also alleged that Congress President Rahul Gandhi was using EVM-hacking as an “allibi” because he was scared of losing the upcoming elections.
Not a Question of Any Political Party, But of Trust in Democracy: Akhilesh Yadav
Reacting to the EVM controversy, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said, “If someone has raised a question then it must be thought that what is the reason that a developed country like Japan is not using EVMs. It is not a question of a political party, it's a question of trust in democracy. EC and government should make a decision.”
Demand EC to Hold 2019 Elections Using Ballot Paper: Mayawati
BSP chief Mayawati said its is essential to resolve the EVM matter keeping the interests of democracy in mind. She said, “It's possible to validate ballot paper but it's not the case with EVM. We demand EC to hold 2019 general election using ballot paper, taking this into cognisance.”
Oppn Parties Looking for Excuses as They Know They're Going to Lose: Javadekar
Taking a swipe at the Opposition for forming a committee on the voting machine issue, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar onTuesday said the parties were going to face defeat in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and therefore they have started to look for excuses.
"In Kolkata rally, they did not form manifesto committee, they also did not set up any committee to look into that what will be their common minimum programme but they formed only one committee and it was about EVM (electronic voting machine). They know they are going to lose elections so they want to make EVMs the excuse of their defeat," Javadekar said at a press conference.
Reddy Rubbishes Murder Allegation Against Him
BJP leader G Kishan Reddy denied the murder allegations levelled against him by a man identified as Syed Shuja.
“A man named Syed Shuja made allegations against me in London yesterday, in front of Congress party’s Kapil Sibal, that my friends & I killed 11 people in Hyderabad. It was your government then. Your officers were working at that time, how could I kill 11 ppl over tampering issue?G Kishan Reddy”, BJP Leader
Foreign Press Association Dissociates Themselves from Shuja's Claims
A day after self-acclaimed cyber expert Syed Shuja made explosive claims, in a press conference in London, Foreign Press Association dissociated itself from the event.
ECI Files Complaint Against London EVM Hackathon
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has written to the Delhi Police requesting them to lodge an FIR and investigate the statement made by self-proclaimed cyber expert Syed Shuja.
EVM Hacking: ‘Syed Shuja Was Never an Employee,’ ECIL Tells EC
Electronic Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) in a letter to the Election Commission of India (ECI) said that 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.
“The record of this company have been verified and it is found that Mr Syed Shuja has neither been in the rolls of ECIL as a regular employee nor was he in any way associated in the design and development of EVMs in ECIL produced between 2009 to 2014,” ECIL said in the letter.
Delhi Police to Take Action Under IPC Section 505
The Delhi Police, after receiving a complaint from the Election Commission of India regarding the press conference in London, will take legal action under section 505 of IPC (whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report). Further investigation shall be conducted as per law.
Indian Journalists' Association (Europe) Distances Itself From Shuja
The Indian Journalists’ Association (IJA) has issued a statement distancing itself from Syed Shuja.
“Both IJA and FPA organised the press meet - as we routinely do - in good faith. Following the controversy, FPA has "disassociated" itself from the event. Admittedly, the accusations made by Ahmed were very serious; which he could not substantiate them. He left a roomful of scribes highly skeptical, if not annoyed,” the statement said.
“On the face of it, Ahmed’s utterances via Skype left most journalists who listened to and questioned him unconvinced. People are unlikely to believe Ahmed until and unless he decisively demonstrates – which he had promised to do – that EVMs are not infallible,” the statement added.
Didn't Want to See the Hackathon: Former CEC
Former Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla said that he did not see the press conference in London.
“I didn't see this hackathon in London and didn't want to see it either, as EVM used there wasn't of Election Commission. ECI's EVMs are manufactured in secret conditions, are being used since 2006, and yield different results,” he said.
AAP Calls for Ballot Papers During 2019 Polls
The Aam Admi Party (AAP) on Wednesday, 23 January, called for ballot papers to be used in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, following the allegations against EVMs.
The party has also exhorted all opposition parties to boycott the polls if their demand was not paid heed to, reported IANS.
Use of EVMs Perfectly Fine: Nitish Kumar
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that the use of EVMs were “perfectly fine” as long as the VVPATs are there at every booth.
Not Going Back to Ballot-Paper Era: Chief Election Commissioner
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”.