‘Breaking-India Brigade’ peddles 'fake news’ about EVMs: Conspiracy hatched to discredit ECI and Democracy
   21-May-2019



Rubbishing the false claims and rumours of alleged movement of EVMs, the ECI stated that ‘it would like to emphatically and unambiguously clarify that all such reports and allegations are absolutely false, and factually incorrect. The visuals seen viral on media do not pertain to any EVMs used during the polls.’ 
 
Panicked over the exit poll projections of a BJP win, Congress-Left leaning media and a group of ultra-Leftists and Islamists are spreading fake news to discredit Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
 
Ever since various agencies predicted a huge victory for BJP in the Lok Sabha Elections 2019, there has been a concerted effort to peddle fake news on social media and mainstream media. Videos surfaced on social media claimed that there have been attempts to replace the polled EVMs with tampered ones. With an evil intent to undermine the credibility of the Election Commission of India, the opposition and anti-BJP groups have resorted to spreading fake videos showing machines are stacked in private vehicles, purportedly for ‘EVM swapping’!
 
Rubbishing the false claims and rumours of alleged movement of EVMs, the ECI stated that ‘it would like to emphatically and unambiguously clarify that all such reports and allegations are absolutely false, and factually incorrect. The visuals seen viral on media do not pertain to any EVMs used during the polls.’
 
“After the close of polls, all polled EVMs and VVPATs are brought under security cover to the designated strongrooms, which is sealed with double locks, in the presence of the candidates and in the presence of Observers of the Election Commission. The entire process of storage and sealing of the strongroom is covered under videography. Continuous CCTV coverage is done till completion of counting. Each strongroom is guarded with round-the-clock security by Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). Further, the candidates or their designated agents remain present at the strongroom for 24X7 vigil at all times,” the statement added.
 
The ECI made it clear that the strongrooms are opened in the presence of the candidates/agents and Observer under videography on the counting day. “Before the counting of EVMs commences, the counting agents are shown the address tags, seals and serial number of the EVMs to satisfy themselves to the genuineness and authenticity of the machinesused in the actual polls,” the statement further added.
 
“The provisions and protocols have been explained to the political parties on multiple occasions including in several of the 93 meetings held with them at the Commission since announcement of elections. All Chief Electoral Officers and District Election Officers have again been advised to brief the candidates on the elaborate counting arrangements.”
 
“As can be appreciated, the detailed administrative protocols, security framework and procedural guidelines mandated by the Commission completely foreclose and pre-empt the possibility of any mischief or manipulation in the polled EVMs and VVPATs stored in the designated strongrooms under the 24X7 watch of the CAPF as well as the candidates.”
 
“The aspersions in clips being used in media merely pertain to the storage or movement of Reserve unused EVMs. However any case of lapse even in handling of Reserve EVMs is thoroughly investigated and disciplinary action taken against the officers responsible. An EVM Control Room 011- 23052123 will also be functioning at Nirvachan Sadan for handling any EVM related complaints till the completion of counting. This will become operative from 11am on 22.5.2019,” the ECI clarified.
 
Earlier this month, ‘Frontline’, the fortnightly magazine of Left-leaning the Hindu, and TV9 Bharatvarsh had carried fake news, claiming nearly 20 lakh EVMs have gone missing in the past 25 years. Soon after the reports surfaced on social media, the ECI had dismissed the reports and sent letters to both the organisations asking them to take necessary action to stop the spread of fake news.
 
In the letter, the ECI wrote, “It is noticed that this news story has selectively quoted some information obtained by an individual through RTI application from multiple Pubic Authorities and a PIL filed in the Bombay High Court. This news story carries only partial and one-sided information, which is inaccurate and based on the specious misinterpretation of the facts in the matter, therefore creating unwarranted doubts in the minds of the general public.”
 
“It is hoped that your channel would observe the highest professional and ethical standards in reporting and would not be a party, even unwittingly, to malicious efforts at spreading misinformation,” the letter read.
 
The report in Frontline (dated May 24, 2019) titled “Missing EVMs” was authored by Venkitesh Ramakrishnan. The author used an incredible PIL petition filed in the Bombay High Court as the source to substantiate his fake claims. He also bluffed that the EVMs used in the 2019 general election are unreliable!
 
“There is no truth in the contention that RTI-based Public Interest Litigation in the Bombay High Court ‘points out that 20 lakh EVMs that the manufacturers affirm to have delivered are ‘missing’ from the possession of the Election Commission,” said the poll panel’s spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan.
 
 “It is noticed that this news story has selectively quoted some information obtained by an individual through RTI application from multiple public authorities and a PIL filed in the Bombay High Court,” Sharan said in a letter to Frontline and television channel TV9 Bharatvarsh. “This news story carried only partial and one-sided information, which is inaccurate and based on specious misinterpretation of the facts in the matter, thereby creating unwarranted doubts in the minds of general public.” 
 
 
The spokesperson said that both Frontline and TV9 Bharatvarsh had been informed of the details in their “misleading” stories. As an immediate response to the ECI notice, TV9 Bharatvarsh had withdrawn the fake report from their website. “Editor Frontline has acknowledged that due rejoinder shall be published," Sharan said.
 
Some radical Islamic-ultra Leftist groups are spreading messages on social media, instigating the public to manhandle the ECI officials in the streets and take out violent protest marches to 'save democracy' from the purported ‘EVM swapping’. In some non-BJP ruled states, radical elements have called for ‘riots’ on May 23 following the exit poll results. In the wake of such reports, sources in the intelligence agency told Organiser that it is taking the stock of the scenario. Sources said that such rumours are aimed at instigating unrest in some parts of the country and the security forces are already prepared to take on any such challenges. The Central Intelligence has also launched a probe into such rumours and fake news as it suspects that it could be a part of a large game plan. According to various sources, activists and journalists linked to Islamic outfits, who propagate such fake news are under scanner.