Delhi Assembly Elections 2020: EVMs moved to 21 counting centres amid tight security
Hours after voting concluded for the Delhi assembly elections on Saturday evening, all electronic voting machines (EVMs) were escorted to 21 designated counting centres. Security was tight, with personnel from the Delhi Police as well as armed paramilitary commandos providing multi-layered cover.
Senior police officers said each of these centres will be guarded by at least 200 security personnel until counting day on February 11 (Tuesday). On Counting Day, their strength will be doubled.
“Unauthorised vehicles and individuals will be kept away from these heavily barricaded centres,” said an officer privy to the security details, but not authorised to speak to the media, said.
On Saturday, around 42,000 Delhi Police personnel, along with 190 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) were deployed to maintain law and order during polling. Along with this, 19,000 Home Guards were also deployed to assist the forces.
On Saturday night, alleging irregularities, the Aam Admi Party’s (AAP’s) Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh tweeted a video and wrote, “election commission must take note of this…the EVMs are being unloaded at a place where there is not centre.”
The video showed people carrying what looked like EVMs deboarding a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus. The video does not specify the area, nor does Singh in his tweet.
The above quoted police officer, however, said everything was followed as pero protocol.
Delhi CEO Ranbir Singh said, the machines being taken to the strong rooms were reserve machines, which did not have any votes polled in them.
“At Babarpur, the sector officer was taking two sets of reserve machines to the strong rooms, for which tow different locations were assigned. However, since the lanes leading to the location were too narrow and a car could not be taken up to that point, the officer had to cover the distance of around 500 metres on foot with the machines. When he came back for the second set of machine, some people ghearoed him. The machines were checked and kept in the strong rooms, which were sealed in the presence of polling agents of political parties,” Singh said.
A senior police officer said that soon as polls concluded, EVMs were escorted to the 21 designated counting centres amid heavy security. “Paramilitary personnel escorted the machines with the help of Delhi Police that assisted them in all possible ways. Traffic police were also roped in to ensure a smooth passage to the vehicles carrying the EVMs. The task took hours and was completed till early morning Sunday without any glitch,” the officer said.
The officer said all these centres where the strong rooms have been set up for counting of votes that is scheduled for Tuesday, are being heavily guarded.
“The inner cordon and strong rooms are being guarded by the CAPF personnel and Delhi Police are providing security on the outer periphery of these centres. Two hundred Delhi police personnel will be available at each of these centres. All the centres have been heavily barricaded so that no unidentified vehicle can reach close to these centres. No individual will be allowed inside unless he or she shows the authorization given to them by the election commission,” he said.
Deputy commissioner of police, Sharat Sinha said the strength of Delhi Police officers at each centre will go up to at least 500 personnel on the day of counting, including senior officers of the rank of assistant commissioner of police. Apart from this, any accessory, stationery, equipment, computers, refreshments that need to be taken inside the centres will be scanned thoroughly for any possible threat or violation, Sinha added.
Another police officer, who did not wish to be named, said officers from the police’s special branch will also be deployed around the counting centres. Apart from them, the crime branch officers will also keep an eye on the surrounding areas to ensure no criminal activity in the vicinity.
Police Control Room vans will also be stationed at every centre in adequate number so that in case of any untoward incident, immediate conveyance is available.
“Drones will be used for surveillance if need be. Senior police officers from the districts can decide if drones need to be used around counting centres in their areas,” the officer said.