Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader HS Phoolka on Monday accused the returning officer of Gill assembly segment of tampering with electronic voting machines (EVMs) kept in the strong room at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.
Addressing a press conference here in the evening, Phoolka said a complaint in this regard has been submitted to the election commission (EC).
“The returning officer (RO) of Gill constituency, Gagandeep Singh Virk, entered the strong room around 11am with five people and spent more than 15 minutes there. How can we be sure there was no tampering (with EVMs)?” questioned Phoolka, adding he will be travelling throughout the state to check strong rooms.
Accusing the Badals to be behind the alleged incident, the AAP leader said: “No procedure was followed by the RO. The candidate was not informed. I challenge the Badals to mend their ways... tussi inha chaalan to baaz aa jao.”
Claiming a complaint of criminal trespass has also been submitted to the police, Phoolka said: “If ROs are allowed to enter the premises in such a callous manner, then how can they be expected to guard the strong rooms with zeal and discipline?”
Later, Ludhiana additional deputy commissioner (general) Mohinder Pal Gupta and additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP) Surinder Lamba accompanied AAP’s Gill candidate Jeevan Singh Sangowal to the PAU.
The officials recorded statements of the security personnel on duty and along with Sangowal saw the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the strong room, which reportedly pointed to no wrongdoing. Later, Ludhiana deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat shared a video on a WhatsApp group in which Sangowal can be seen acknowledging that after viewing the footage, he is convinced of foolproof security arrangements outside the strong room.
“The RO had gone to another room in the premises to pick his belongings that he had left there. He never entered the strong room. Stringent and foolproof security arrangements have been made outside all strong rooms,” said Bhagat, adding that candidates can accompany the RO of their respective assembly segment to take stock of security arrangements outside the strong room every day at 11am.