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Mumbai MP’s Relative Accused of Using Phone to Unlock EVM

16 Jun. 24: A police case has been filed against Mangesh Pandilkar, the brother-in-law of newly elected Mumbai North West Lok Sabha MP Ravindra Waikar, for allegedly using a mobile phone at a vote counting centre on June 4, the day of the Lok Sabha Election results, reports Livemint. This action contravenes a strict ban on such devices at counting centres.

The complaint, lodged by polling personnel Dinesh Gurav, was prompted by an independent candidate who observed Pandilkar using the phone and reported it to the returning officer. The police booked Pandilkar under Indian Penal Code Section 188 for disobeying an official order.

Waikar, a candidate from Shiv Sena, secured his seat by a narrow margin of 48 votes.

Controversy Over EVM Unlocking
Reports have surfaced suggesting that Pandilkar’s mobile phone was connected to an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) to generate an OTP that unlocked the machine. This incident allegedly took place at the NESCO Centre during the vote counting for the Mumbai North West constituency.

The police have sent the phone to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for data and call record analysis to determine if it was used for any other purposes. A Vanrai police official confirmed this ongoing investigation.

Opposition’s Concerns
The incident has led to significant backlash from opposition leaders. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticized the transparency of India’s electoral process, referring to EVMs as a “black box” that lacks scrutiny. On social media platform X, Gandhi expressed concerns over potential fraud and the lack of accountability in democratic institutions.

The Congress party has posed several questions regarding the incident, questioning why an NDA candidate’s relative had access to the EVM and how the phone reached the counting area. Shiv Sena UBT leader Aaditya Thackeray and Priyanka Chaturvedi also demanded the release of CCTV footage from the counting centre, alleging refusal from the Mumbai Suburban District Collector.

BJP’s Defense
In defense, former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar asserted the security of Indian EVMs, highlighting their isolation from any network or media, and stating that they cannot be reprogrammed. Chandrasekhar’s remarks were in response to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s suggestion to eliminate EVMs from elections.

The controversy continues to unfold as opposition leaders call for greater transparency and accountability in the electoral process.


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