While the elections are hardly three months away, the talk of previous elections have started emerging. A man in London on a video conferencing has, allegedly, accused Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of hacking Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in 2014 with the help of Election Commission. The man claiming to be a former employee of Electronic Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), and a cyber expert, claimed that EVM’s in 2014 elections were hacked which made BJP win elections with a great margin of votes. The man appeared on a news conference on Skype, with his face covered made these serious allegations on Election Commission. However, the Election Commission rejected all such allegations terming it a baseless allegation and stood firm by affirming the “foolproof nature of EVM’s”.
The man is identified as Syed Shuja from Hyderabad who fled from India in 2014 because he felt threatened here after the killing of his other team mates who knew about this hacking. He said that his teammates were killed and he was even attacked but somehow survived. He also claimed that Reliance Jio helped BJP hack EVM’s through low frequency. He further added, “In Delhi Elections 2015, we managed to intercept the transmission, resulting in the AAP winning 67 out of 70 seats. Otherwise BJP would have swept.”
Soon after allegations made by Syed Shuja, Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, said that the opposition parties will take up this matter to the Election Commission. “Our great democracy must be protected. Every vote of yours is precious. All oppn parties discussed the #EVM issue after the #UnitedIndiaAtBrigade rally. We are working closely together and decided on Jan 19 itself to consistently take up the matter with EC. Yes, every vote counts” she tweeted.
In the past, many allegations regarding EVM hacking had been made by the opposition parties on Election Commission. Whereas the EC is firm on their statements that hacking of EVM is not possible. They dismissed such claims stating that the “so-called demonstration of tampering of prototype of an EVM cannot be exploited to influence intelligent citizens and electorate to assail or vilify the EVMs used by commission.” The commission further clarified that EVMs are manufactured under strick supervisory and security conditions in Bharat Electronics Ltd. and Electronics Corporation of India Limited. It stated that the EVMs are manufactured on the lines of rigorous Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) under the supervision of a committee of technical experts setup in 2010. The EC, on Tuesday, filed a First Information Report (FIR) before Delhi police under section 505 (intent to cause fear and public mischief) urging to take lawful action against Syed Shuja for his false claims against the commission.
Syed Shuja presented himself as a former employee in ECIL who worked there from 2009 to 2014. Whereas, in a letter to Deputy Election Commissioner, Sudeep Jain, the ECIL stated that Syed Shuja has neither worked on the rolls of ECIL as a regular employee nor was he a part of the team which designed and developed the EVMs between 2009 & 2014.
Well, the letter and firmness on the statement of Election Commission may be convincing enough to many, however, repeated allegations on it makes many raise concerns over usage of EVMs over other non-electronic means to record the votes of the electorates. The Election Commission must come up with a strategy to make every citizen of India convince that the EVMs are non-hackable.