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Nearly 10,000 voter ID cards were seized from a flat in Jalahalli in RR Nagar on Tuesday. Thousands of counter foils of Form 6 used for inclusion of names in electoral rolls too were seized.
The flying squad that reached the spot on a tip-off found a few pamphlets featuring sitting Congress MLA N Muniratna that led to BJP and JD(S) demanding the poll be countermanded. However, it turned out later that the house belonged to BJP leader Manjula Nanjamari and the tenant Rakesh, also a BJP worker, is her close relative. This prompted the Congress to point fingers at the saffron party.
“It is a very serious issue that the ECI is looking into. It has sent deputy election commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar. The ECI will quickly take a final call on the election based on his report,” chief electoral officer Sanjiv Kumar told a press conference here on Wednesday. On whether he had recommended countermanding of the poll, he just said he’d sent a comprehensive report to the ECI.
He said the flying squad had seized 9,896 EPICs (Electoral Photo ID Cards) which were all genuine. Also, 6,342 voter application acknowledgement receipts with BBMP seals, 20,700 acknowledgement receipts without BBMP seals, five laptops, three malfunctioning copiers, nine mobiles, PAN cards and driving licences were among other things seized.
“These voter cards were systematically collected one by one for some purpose. At the outset, it looks like an effort to influence vulnerable voters,” said Sanjiv Kumar.
He said election officials have also seized documents suggesting that the perpetrators had conducted a thorough household survey before collecting the EPICs. The survey included collation of details like the person’s name, age, gender, caste, mobile number and account number of old-age pension, if any. The survey reports also included photographs of houses surveyed.
“EPICs were carefully bundled and the packets bore the the names of slums from where the cards had been collected. The modus operandi suggests a wellplanned operation,” the CEO added.
“Initially it was projected that the cards found were bogus and we were concerned about the possibility of the perpetrators breaching into our IT systems to create fake IDs. That said, it’s a very serious issue, especially considering the huge number of the cards seized,” he said. Answering a query, he said a few activists of BJP and JD(S) were already on the spot before the flying squad reached there. He brushed aside a question on whether sitting MLA and Congress candidate N Munirathna was a suspect.
“Let us not jump to conclusions just because a few bills bearing the picture of an MLA were found. It’s a serious matter that is under probe,” Sanjiv Kumar said.
Jalahalli police, meanwhile, arrested Congress corporator G K Venkatesh and Raghu for assaulting rival party workers who barged into the flat on Tuesday morning. Police have registered an FIR for criminal conspiracy against 10 people, including five women, in connection with the voter ID cards seized.
Flat owner Manjula, who was questioned for four hours, was rushed to hospital in the evening after she complained of uneasiness.