London: A US based cyber expert of Indian origin has made some sensational but unsubstantiated claims here that the Electronic Voting Machine (EVMS)s were rigged in the 2014 general elections and that many political parties were in touch with him.
The man who identified himself as Syed Shuja and a former employee of Electronic Corporation of India (ECI, addressed the media through skype from an undisclosed US location. He claimed that he fled India three years back by bribing the immigration authorities at New Delhi and took asyllum in America as he feared for his life back home. He also claimed that he was involved in designing the EVMs as an employee in ECI.
Most of his allegations were against the ruling BJP government at the Centre. He said BJP was using money to influence the elections and was allegedly involved in the rigging process.
Shuja said he and his associates managed to stop EVM rigging in the recently held electiions in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Congress won in these three states. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal was reportedly present at Shuja’s press conference.
He claimed that former BJP Minister Gopinath Munde was killed because he was about to reveal EVM hacking. He also alleged that senior journalist Gauri Lankesh was also killed as she was in touch with him to file a story about the rigging of the EVMS. She had also filed an RTI to get more information about the tampering issue.
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, who has been a vocal critic about the use of EVMs in the elections, tweeted saying “our democracy must be protected”.
Our great democracy must be protected. Every vote of yours is precious. All Oppn parties discussed the #EVM issue after the #UnitedIndiaAtBrigade rally. We are working closely together and decided on Jan 19 itself to consistently take up the matter with EC. Yes,every vote counts
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) January 21, 2019
Shuja’s claim, even if not backed by any evidence, is crucial since it comes just months before the general elections, in which PM Narendra Modi will seek another term in office. In the last few months, Opposition parties raised questions over whether EVMs can be tampered with and stray incidents of irregularities have made headlines across the country.
At the oppostion rally in Kolkata on January 19, NC leader Farooque Abdullah had termed the EVMs as ‘chor machine’.
The Election Commission of India has maintained that the EVMs used in India are tamperproof. So far, there has been no conclusive evidence to show that EVMs can be hacked. None of the parties had come forward to a challenge thrown by EC last year to hack the EVMs.
Reactions from BJP and other parties were awaited.