The Election Commission of India on Tuesday suspended a polling officer in Uluberia Uttar in West Bengal’s Howrah district after spare Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines were allegedly found at a political leader’s house, an official of the election watchdog said.
However, the EC official refused to name the leader, but Chiran Bera, Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate from Uluberia Uttar, claimed the machines were found at the residence of Goutam Ghosh, who is ruling Trinamool Congress’s booth president in the area.
“A few villagers saw two vehicles outside the leader’s house and inquired. When they came to know that the sector officer has come, they informed me,” said Bera. The poll body officials said the suspended sector officer had gone to the leader’s house, who is his relative, along with the machines.
After the matter came to light, villagers staged a protest in the area. A police contingent had to be sent to the spot to disperse the crowd and bring the situation under control.
“We have suspended the sector officer. The EVMs and VVPAT machines, which were recovered, were kept as reserve,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
The news of the recovery of the machines came as polling was underway in 31 constituencies across three districts including Howrah, Hooghly, and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal.