Claims of US-Based ‘Expert’ on EVM Hacking Have Several Loopholes

Claims of US-Based ‘Expert’ on EVM Hacking Have Several Loopholes

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An Indian “cyber expert”, claiming to be under political asylum in the US, claimed that the 2014 general election was "rigged" through the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), which, he says, can be hacked.

Addressing a press conference in London via Skype on Monday, 21 January, the man, identified as Syed Shuja, said he fled India in 2014 because he felt threatened in the country after the killing of some of his team members.

Shuja said that he was part of a team which designed the EVMs used in the 2014 elections. He said that he and his team were instructed by the ECIL to find out if EVMs could be hacked, and find out how to do this.

Also Read : Examining What Legal Action Can Be Taken: EC on EVM ‘Hack’

The outlandish and explosive claims, made in a cloak and dagger manner, could not be immediately confirmed.

He claimed he was part of a team at the public sector Electronic Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), which designed and developed the EVMs. He was presented at a press conference organised by the Indian Journalists' Association (Europe).

Although he appeared on screen through Skype, his face was masked.

Speaking at the event in London, Shuja claimed that he worked for the ECIL from 2009-2014.

"The 2014 general elections were rigged," he claimed.

The ‘expert’ made a number of serious claims, the credibility of which is highly questionable. Here are a few:

  • Firstly, he claimed that he, along with his team, worked for the ECIL in 2014. He then claims to have figured out that the BJP was tampering with the EVMs and met a party leader regarding the same to try to extort money from him, following which, his team members were killed in a staged riot situation in Hyderabad. However, there are no reports to corroborate his claims of the alleged killings.
  • Secondly, he claimed that late Union Minister Gopinath Munde knew about the rigging of elections and was considering going public with it, but was “murdered” before he could do that. Munde had died in a road accident on 3 June 2014, while on his way to his first official meeting after taking the post. He further claimed that the officer probing Munde’s death, Tanzil Ahmed, also died while he was looking into Munde’s death and was planning to file an FIR regarding the same.
  • Next, he claimed that he has received asylum in the US after he escaped the alleged attack in Hyderabad. He also claimed that he got asylum only after he showed the authorities the evidence to back his claims. However, the stringent US laws regarding providing “asylum” with no reports of it makes his claims hard to believe.
  • He claims that the tampering can be done using a modulator to tap into a low frequency. He also claimed that the modulator was of “military grade” and was sold to Reliance between 2012-2014. He also could not be clear if he was accusing Reliance Communications or Reliance Jio in the process. But he later said that it was a Mukesh Ambani company. This is something that can be looked into but he did not provide any evidence to his claims.
  • On a query about Brexit, he claimed that it was hacked in a similar manner. However, the voting for Brexit happened by paper ballots.

Several political parties in the past have alleged that the EVMs are prone to tampering and demanded reintroduction of the ballot papers.

The Election Commission (EC) of India, responding to the claims, said that the machines are foolproof and the Commission is currently analysing what legal action is 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.

“It is being separately examined as to what legal action can and should be taken in the matter,” the Commission said in a statement.

Also Read : Examining What Legal Action Can Be Taken: EC on EVM ‘Hack’

(With inputs from PTI)

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