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EVMs found at TMC leader’s house, Election Commission suspends poll officer

Kolkata: An official of the Election Commission of India was suspended after he was found at the residence of a TMC leader along with EVMs and VVPATs ahead of the third phase of West Bengal assembly elections.

The sector officer Tapan Sarkar, who was in-charge of Sector 17 in Uluberia seat, spent a night at a relative’s place who turned out to be a local leader of the TMC.

The EVMs and VVPATs which were found at the residence were part of the reserve stock, which won’t be used for voting on Tuesday (April 6).

“This is a gross violation of EC`s instructions for which he has been suspended and charges will be framed for major punishment,” the EC said in a statement.

“”The said EVM and VVPAT have been taken out of the stock and shall not be used in the polls. Severe action will be taken against all involved,” it added.

General Observer Neeraj Pawan has checked the intactness of all seals. These EVMs have now been stored in a separate room in Observers custody.

The EC has also directed the suspension of the sector police attached to the sector officer.

“The alleged sector officer in his statement said he brought the four reserved EVM machines to TMC leader Goutam Ghoshs residence at Uluberias Tulsiberia area on Monday night, since the BDO office was occupied by central police personnel.

Sarkar said that he intended to keep the EVM and VVPAT machines with him while he caught a few moments of rest since keeping the machines in the car would`ve proved riskier,” news agency IANS said quoting sources in the commission.

BJP has alleged that getting hold of the EVM and VVPAT machines was an attempt planned by the TMC to “loot votes”.

Phase 3 of the West Bengal Assembly elections are being held in 31 seats across three districts – South 24 Parganas, Howrah, and Hooghly.

The last phase of polls will be conducted on April 29. Votes will be counted on May 2.