The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has got a historic victory in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. After 37 years, the ruling party is repeating the government. BJP secured 255 seats, while the Samajwadi Party secured 111 seats.
On March 8, 2022, the day after the elections were over in Uttar Pradesh, an uproar started over EVMs. The Samajwadi Party chief alleged the administration of rigging EVMs and an attempt to illegally move EVMs from one place to another 48 hours before the counting of votes in Varanasi. In these videos, many EVM boxes can be seen in one tempo. Some people are standing on the tempo, and there is a huge crowd around. People are seen raising slogans against the BJP government. Swami Prasad Maurya shared a video and accused BJP of stealing votes.
SP alleged UP administration of rigging EVMs and an attempt to move EVMs to manipulate election results illegally.
The Logical Indian Fact Check team verified the viral claim and found it to be misleading. The EVMs caught by the Samajwadi party workers were for training purposes and not used in elections.
During the initial investigation, we found a tweet of Akhilesh Yadav in which he alleged EVM rigging. He wrote, "The news of EVM being caught in Varanasi is giving a message to every assembly seat of UP to be alert. All the candidates and supporters of SP-alliance should be ready with their cameras to thwart the attempt of rigging in the counting of votes. Youth become soldiers in counting votes to protect democracy and the future".
After the controversy came to light, Varanasi District Collector and District Election Officer Kaushal Raj Sharma gave a statement to the media. He said, "These EVMs were for training, which was being taken from the food warehouse in Mandi to the UP college. Some political parties stopped the vehicle carrying such EVMs and spread rumours by calling them EVMs used in elections."
We also found a tweet by the Chief Electoral Officer of Uttar Pradesh, in which a press release on this incident can be seen. According to the press release, the EVMs seen in the tempo were kept for the counting officers' training. This training was to be held on March 9 2022. For this reason, only these EVM machines were being taken from storage to a college on March 8, where training was to be held. However, some people from political parties stopped this vehicle, and a rumour was spread that these EVM machines were used for voting.
The commission said that the machines were for training. Regarding the devices used in voting, the commission said that they were kept sealed inside the strong form. Strong CCTV surveillance was there, and the representatives of the candidates of political parties also watched the CCTV footage. Also, the strong room was guarded by CRPF in three circles.
After that, we searched the clearer version of the viral video and found the more extended version of the viral video on a Facebook page dated March 9 2022. In this 15:15 second extended footage, one can see the EVM boxes as seen in the viral videos. However, on looking it closely, we found stickers pasted on them which read "Training/Awareness EVMs".
Lapse In Protocol:
According to the report of NDTV, Varanasi Commissioner Deepak Aggarwal himself has admitted that there was a mistake on the part of the administration in the movement of EVM machines. Deepak Agarwal said, "If you talk about the protocol for the movement of EVMs, there was a lapse in the protocol, I accept that. But I can guarantee you; it is impossible to take away machines used in voting."
Samajwadi Party's official Twitter handle also tweeted this video.
According to the report of Hindustan Times dated March 10 2022, Chief Election Commissioner of India, Sushil Chandra, said, "The mistake of the ADM was that not following the standard operating procedure, the ADM of Varanasi had to inform the political parties about the movement of EVMs for training purposes, but he did not do so due to which the confusion arose among the party members. However, no EVMs on which votes are cast were used for the training purpose."
It is evident from our investigation and by the statement of the chief election commissioner that there was a mistake on the part of the Varanasi administration regarding the movement of EVMs; however, the EVM machines seen in the videos were different from the voting machines, and they were kept for training purpose. Hence, the viral claim is misleading.
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