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EVM tampering claim kicks up a row; Delhi Police to investigate

ANI | Updated: Jan 22, 2019 21:52 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan 22 (ANI): The Delhi Police on Tuesday said it will investigate the claim made by a self-proclaimed hacker that the EVMs can be tampered with, as a political row erupted over the issue.
Amid the claims by the so-called hacker, there were renewed calls by some Opposition parties for finding an alternative to the EVMs, including the return to the use of ballot papers, in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“Delhi Police have received a complaint from the Election Commission of India. The legal action is being taken under section 505 of IPC in the matter. Further, an investigation shall be conducted as per law,” it said in a statement.
Section 505 of IPC (Indian Penal Code) deals with public mischief aimed at creating fear or inciting the public to commit an offence.
The police statement came after the Election Commission of India (ECI) requested it to lodge an FIR and investigate properly the claim made by one Syed Shuja on Monday in London during a hackathon which was attended by Congress leader Kapil Sibal.
“Through media reports, it has come to the notice of the commission that allegedly one Mr Syed Shuja claimed (at the event in London) that he was part of the EVM design team and he can hack the EVMs used in elections in India,” the EC said in its letter to the police.
Shuja had claimed on Monday that he could demonstrate how electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in elections could be tampered with.
The ECI rubbished the claim made by Shuja, asserting that the machines are fool-proof and manufactured following rigorous Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs).
Shuja’s another claim that he had worked in the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) was also rubbished by the public sector company.
“It’s certified from the records that that (he) has neither been on rolls of ECIL as a regular employee nor he, in any way, associated in design & development of EVMs,” the ECIL said in a statement.
The Foreign Press Association (FPA) also issued a statement on Tuesday, dissociating itself from the claims made by Shuja at the event organised by the IJA.
"The Foreign Press Association strongly disassociates itself with any claims made by the speaker Syed Shuja during the #IJA event in London yesterday. Not one of the masked speaker’s accusations has so far been corroborated," the FPA tweeted on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the presence of Sibal at the event where the EVM tampering claim was made has triggered a major political row, with the BJP questioning whether it was a “Congress-sponsored event designed to insult the popular mandate of 2014.”
"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,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said addressing a press conference here.
Prasad went on to add, “Is the Congress-sponsored event designed to insult the popular mandate of 2014?"
Sibal also held a press conference, saying that he had been invited to the event and that is why he attended it.
The claim by the self-styled hacker prompted Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav to urge the Election Commission to look for an alternative to EVM, contending that these machines are a threat to a vibrant democracy. 
"If someone has raised a question, then it must be looked into why a developed country like Japan is not using EVMs. It is not a question of a political party. It is a question of having trust in democracy. EC and the government should take a decision,” Akhilesh said in Lucknow.
SP's ally Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati too spoke on similar lines.
"Keeping democracy's larger interest in mind, it is essential to look into the EVM issue so that it gets resolved soon. It is possible to validate ballot paper but it is not possible with EVM. We demand EC should hold 2019 general election using ballot paper; our demand should be taken into consideration," Mayawati told reporter in Lucknow. (ANI)