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Mrunal Manmay Dash

The police resorted to lathi charge on corporator candidates and their supporters protesting the alleged EVM tampering by a BJD supporter at the strong room created at the Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar (BJB) Autonomous College in Bhubaneswar on Friday. The counting of votes for the ULB polls will be held tomorrow.

The protesters alleged that a youth supported by the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) made unauthorised entry into the strong room with an intention to tamper with the EVMs in favour of the party.

They even alleged the complicity of the Bhubaneswar Additional District Magistrate (ADM), Prafulla Kumar Swain in the alleged EVM tampering attempt.

However, when the angry protesters gheraoed the miscreant who allegedly tried to tamper with the EVMs, the police used force and resorted to lathi charge to disperse the protestors, causing injury to two of them.

Alleging police excess, the supporter of an independent Corporator candidate said, “The police is acting as the goons of BJD. We came here after learning about EVM tampering in the strong room. When we protested, the police chased us down and thrashed us.”

The protesters alleged that the CCTV cameras installed to monitor the activities inside the strong room do not have any hard disks to help save the footage for scrutiny. Moreover, the LED screen put up outside the strong room to play the CCTV camera feed has been malfunctioning since morning, disrupting live visuals of the strong room.

A corporator candidate keeping surveillance on the strong room alleged, “The youth who entered the strong room carried a fake ID card with no name or credentials on it. He is a goon of the ruling BJD and carried a list of EVMs to tamper. The police allowed him inside to carry out his job with impunity. We condemn the police inaction and demand the culprit to be brought to justice,” he said.

However, the ADM, Swain sought to play down the allegations and said, “Such kind of tight security arrangements has been made for the first time for any election in Odisha. I can assure you that there has been no tampering of the EVMs.”

Bhubaneswar DCP, Umashankar Das who reached the spot on receiving information about the commotion, said, “All access points of the building are being manned by security personnel.”

On allegations of malfunctioning of the LED display and CCTV cameras, Dash said that he wasn’t aware of the details.

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