A polling agent of the BJP was arrested by Palwal Police Sunday, hours after a video of him allegedly trying to influence voters at a polling booth in Faridabad district surfaced on social media.
A polling agent of the BJP was arrested by Palwal Police Sunday, hours after a video of him allegedly trying to influence voters at a polling booth in Faridabad district surfaced on social media. Following a probe the Election Commission Monday ordered fresh polls at the polling station on May 19 and suspended the station’s presiding officer.
Police said the incident took place at a polling booth in Asaoti village, under the Faridabad Lok Sabha constituency, which voted May 12. And according to the complaint filed by Amit Atri, the booth’s presiding officer, BJP polling agent Giriraj Singh, a resident of Asaoti, “with the excuse of helping voters”, pressed the button meant to cast votes on three occasions.
An EC statement said, “The presiding office Shri Amit Atri has been placed under suspension for the dereliction of duty and criminal action is also being initiated against the Presiding officer. The Micro observer Ms. Sonal Gulati has not reported the incident correctly for which the commission has barred her from any election related work for three years.”
“Taking a serious note of failure to take immediate action on the incident, the Returning Officer 10 Faridabad PC has been transferred out from present posting and Commission has directed the state Government to send a panel of three suitable officers immediately the for his replacement of Returning Officer Faridabad.”
The Palwal police said Singh was arrested and released on bail Monday. “We found out about the matter on Sunday afternoon after someone sent the video to us. An FIR was registered regarding and the accused was arrested in the afternoon itself. He has been produced in court and released on bail today,” said Sub Inspector (SI) Kuldeep Singh, Station House Officer (SHO) of the Sadar Palwal police station. The FIR against Singh includes a charge under Section 171C (undue influence at elections) of the IPC. The video of the incident shows Singh walking into the poll booth on three occasions in less than 90 seconds as three voters enter to cast their votes one by one. As he gets up to walk to the booth a third time, he is told that he is being called outside. He, however, walks into the booth a third time, before he finally walks out of the purview of the camera.
Atri stated in his complaint: “I stopped him each time but Giriraj Singh did not listen. While Giriraj Singh was trying to put a vote, some person recorded a video film and made it viral. During this time, a crowd of other voters came and Giriraj Singh managed to escape because of the crowd.”
According to an EC statement, “Singh (38), who owns a shop in Asaoti and is also a member of the village panchayat, denied the allegations saying that he was only “helping” voters understand the EVMs. “There were three polling agents who were there, one each from AAP, INLD, and I was there from BJP. I did not press any buttons. I had only gone into the booth to help women because they could not understand the machines. I showed them that you have to press one of these buttons and came out, but someone recorded a video of the incident and made it viral, projecting it as if I had voted on their behalf,” he said.
“If I had pressed the button for them, would they not have protested or complained about it? Even the staff and other agents would have stopped me. This was my first time as a polling agent and I was not told that we could not go inside the booth to help voters. The staff should have told me it was not allowed.The other agents had similarly helped voters. The only difference was that I had no video to prove it.”