EVM hacking controversy: Election Commission seeks FIR, wants investigation
A controversy has erupted over a US-based Indian cyber expert's claim that electronic voting machines (EVMs) were hacked in the 2014 elections in which the BJP had won a landslide victory. Now, the Election Commission has taken issue to the claim, and has asked the Delhi Police to lodge an FIR and investigate it. Other interesting details have also emerged. Here's more.
The first EVM in India was invented by MB Haneefa in 1980, and EVMs were first used in a 1981 by-election. Then, in 1989, the Election Commission commissioned IIT-Bombay-designed EVMs. The first widespread use of EVMs was during assembly constituency elections of November, 1998.
The controversy erupted when self-proclaimed cyber expert Syed Shuja, addressed a press conference in London via a Skype call, and claimed that he had been part of an EVM design team and could easily hack EVMs. He further claimed that not just the BJP, but the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), AAP, and Congress too were involved in the rigging of EVMs.
Despite the claims, it has now emerged that Shuja was never a part of the Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), the company that manufactures EVMs. In a letter to the EC, ECIL clarified that Shuja had not been found in its rosters, and had not been associated with the design and development of EVMs made by ECIL between 2009 and 2014.
Meanwhile, the BJP, on Monday, had launched a blistering attack on the Congress over the EVM hacking controversy. Claiming that the press conference, which had been organized by the Indian Journalists Association' London, was the Congress' doing, the BJP said that the grand old party was already preparing an "alibi" for its certain defeat in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was particularly scathing in his criticism of the Congress. He claimed that the head of the Indian Journalists' Association, Ashis Ray, was a "committed Congressman" who had been trying to garner support for Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Prasad also questioned the presence of Congress leader Kapil Sibal at the conference.
Faced with criticism, Sibal hit back at Prasad, and said that he had attended the conference on an invitation from Ashis Ray. Sibal claimed that invitations had been sent out to all political parties including the BJP, as well as the Election Commission. However, Sibal also said that Shuja's claims needed to be investigated as it pertained to free, fair elections and the survival of democracy.
"There should be an inquiry in the charges he (Shuja) has made...It is your responsibility, if someone is making allegations it is important to ascertain whether the charges are right or not. If the charges are wrong, take action against him. If they are right, then it is a very serious thing," said Sibal.