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The poll panel said that the current election process in the constituency has been vitiated on account of unlawful activities of candidates and political parties as well as their workers in planning to allure voters through distribution of freebies and the illegal collection of electors photo identity cards (EPIC).
“Every voter has freedom to cast his vote in a free and fair manner without facing any inducement. In this particular instance, free exercise of electoral rights has been compromised at a large scale in a systemic manner,” the EC said.
Field verification conducted by officials at some houses revealed that the voter ID cards were seized last month in exchange for water cans and promised cookers. The EC said that the seized water cans bore photos of the Congress candidate from the constituency.
Earlier this week, the flying squad of the Election Commission seized thousands of voter identity cads from a flat in Jalahalli, west Bengaluru, which falls under Rajarajeshwari Nagar assembly constituency.
Following the incident, the EC asked Karnataka chief electoral officer to make a detailed list of voters whose EPIC cards were collected illegally and ensure that they are distributed back to them at least seven days ahead of polling.
The EC also asked Bengaluru police to ensure strict action against the culprits.
The incident was brought to light by Jagadish Ramachandra, son of GH Ramachandra who’s contesting on a JD(S) ticket from RR Nagar. He visited the apartment during campaigning. “Flat no. 115 at SLV Park View in Jalahalli looked like a mini-BBMP office. Apart from two aluminium boxes filled with ID cards, there were two printers and six laptops,” said Jagadish. He alleged there could be 50,000 fake voter ID cards and the list included the ID card of BBMP joint commissioner Tippeswamy.
Chief electoral officer Sanjiv Kumar, who visited the apartment later in the night, confirmed 9,746 valid ID cards have been seized. All these cards belong to RR Nagar constituency.
On Wednesday, police registered a criminal case against 14 people, including Congress sitting MLA and RR Nagar candidate N Munirathna after the incident.
According to the FIR, a copy of which is with TOI, Muniratna is accused no. 14. The other accused include seven women, including the tenant, Rekha. “All the suspects conspired, stored voter ID cards and committed an electoral malpractice,” MCC flying squad head Bhaskar JR said in his complaint.