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The decision comes in the backdrop of the seizure of nearly 10,000 EPICs (Electoral Photo ID Cards) on May 8, investigation into which has revealed that “the concerned party or candidate had used a survey firm to carry out a detailed survey of the voters in the area which included photograph of the house, voters along with details of caste, gender, contact number and their passport size photographs.”
The ECI, in an order released on Friday, said apart from the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sanjiv Kumar, Bengaluru police commissioner, T Suneel Kumar, observers also visited the spot and gave their report.
“The combined report of general, police and expenditure observers for the said constituency has stated that all three observers visited the spot and found that District Election Officer (DEO), Deputy Commissioner of Police and additional DEO, Returning Officer (RO) and other officials had already started the process of accounting of the seized material,” the ECI order read.
After the initial seizure, both the Congress and the BJP had made allegations and counter allegations. Upon receiving the memoranda from both parties, the ECI deputed a Deputy Election Commissioner (DEC)—who flew down from New Delhi—to examine the matter further.
The DEC, in the report claimed that first, a police team of three constables arrived at the spot on receipt of telephonic information in the local police station (Jalahalli). “The door of the flat was already found broken and about 50-60 people were fighting with each other. They also found EPIC cards and other materials scattered around. They informed their superiors who arrived and took control of the situation. Election officials also arrived and assessed the materials including EPIC cards found in the premise,” the ECI order read quoting the DEC report.
Out of the 9, 564 EPIC cards found on May 8, the DEC has been able to verify only 801 cards. “Out of the 801 EPICs, 688 were found to be from the mother roll and the remaining 113 were from the supplementary-1 and supplementary-2,” the ECI order read.
The DEC also reported that in 30 such cases, field verification revealed that the cards were collected from the voters by some “unknown persons”, however, “they were reluctant to disclose the reasons.”
Further, statements recorded by the police reveal that the EPICs were taken a month before, in exchange of water cans and promised cookers, et al, at a later stage. “Seized water cans bear the photo and texts of the INC (Congress) candidate,” the order reads.
That said, the DEC, in his report says: “…As the door of the flat was broken before the arrival of the police, it is a matter of investigation that in what circumstances or who broke the door.” The Commission also took note that the names and other details of the occupant of the flat and the details of the persons who collected these items in the flat from where these were seized are yet to be ascertained.