EC Suspends Officer After EVMs Found at TMC Leader’s House in WB

Calling it a ‘violation of transport protocol’, the EC had suspended the Presiding Officer, along with three others.

Updated
West Bengal
2 min read
The officer, who was in possession of an EVM, was suspended after he spent a night at a TMC leader’s house in WB. Image used for representation. 
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The Election Commission has suspended a sector officer in West Bengal’s Howrah district after the latter – who was in possession of a reserve electronic voting machine (EVM) – spent a night at the residence of a Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader, reported news agency ANI.

While the commission says that the “intactness of all seals” have been checked and the said EVMs and VVPATs have been taken out of service, it has assured of ‘severe action’ against all involved in the incident.

WHO’S THE OFFICER?

Tapan Sarkar, sector officer of Sector 17 in AC 177 Uluberia Uttar at Howrah district, who had a reserve EVM with him, stayed over at a relative’s house, who happened to be a TMC leader.

According to Ritika Chopra, who reports for The Indian Express, the TMC leader in question is Goutam Ghosh.

Two other sector officers, Sanjib Majumdar and Mithun Chakraborty, were also suspended for gross violation of ECI guidelines, the District Magistrate told ANI.

WHAT IS THE EC SAYING?

  • Apart from suspending Sarkar, the EC has called the incident a gross violation of its instructions, while adding that charges will be framed against him.
  • The Sector Police attached to Sector Officer has also been directed to be suspended. The said EVM and VVPAT have been taken out of the stock and shall not be used in the polls.
  • General Observer Neeraj Pawan has checked the intactness of all seals. These EVMs have now been stored in a separate room under the Observer's custody.

Earlier on 2 April, the Election Commission ordered fresh voting at a polling station falling under Assam’s Ratabari constituency, after officers were reportedly found transporting an EVM in a vehicle registered with a BJP candidate’s name.

Calling it a “violation of transport protocol”, the EC had suspended the Presiding Officer, along with three others.

TMC’s Attempts Exposed, Says BJP

Reacting to the incident, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that it had ‘exposed’ yet another attempt by the TMC, while adding that the matter “may be bigger than it seems.”

According to news agency ANI, Javadekar also called for a ‘full inquiry’ of these machines.

“It’s more serious because today is voting. EC has taken action not to use those machines and suspend the officer. But this may be a bigger thing than it seems. So we demand that there should be full inquiry of these VVPATs and EVMs found in his house.”
Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister.

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