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Election official dismisses EVM hacking allegations: ‘Standalone device, no OTP required’ |

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Mumbai: After a report by a Mumbai-based newspaper stated that Shiv Sena leader Ravindra Waikar’s relative was carrying a mobile phone inside a counting centre in Maharashtra’s Goregaon that was allegedly used for generating the OTP that unlocked the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), the Returning Officer dispelled such reports and clarified that no OTP (One Time Password) on mobile is needed for unlocking EVMs.

“There is no OTP (One Time Password) on mobile for unlocking EVM as it is non programmable and it has no wireless communication capabilities. It is a complete lie being spread by a newspaper, which is being used by some leaders to create false narrative,” Vandana Suryavanshi, the Returning Officer of 27 Mumbai North West Parliamentary Constituency said in a press conference on Sunday.

The Returning Officer further stated that the incident at Mumbai North West Constituency Counting Centre is regarding unauthorisedly using mobile phone of an authorised person by a candidate’s aide.

“Criminal case has already been filed by the Returning Officer,” she added. Asserting the efficacy of EVMs in conducting polls, Suryavanshi said, “EVMs are stand alone devices without any wired or wireless connectivity with units outside EVM system. Advanced technical features and robust administrative safeguards are in place to rule out any possibility of manipulation. Safeguards include conducting everything in the presence of candidates or their agents.”

Sharing details about counting of votes through postal ballot, the Returning Officer said, “Counting of ETPBS (Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System) happens in physical form (paper ballots) and not electronics as being spread through false narratives.

“Every counting sheet at every table for ETPBS and EVM counting and postal ballot counting (including ETPBS) is signed by all counting agents after due diligence,” she added. The Returning Officer further stated that proceedings are on against the newspaper for “spreading rumours maligning Indian voters and the electoral system.”

Earlier in the day, an FIR was registered against Mangesh Pandilkar, a relative of Shiv Sena leader Ravindra Waikar for allegedly carrying a mobile phone inside a counting centre in Maharashtra’s Goregaon. The case has been registered at Vanrai Police Station. FIR has also been registered against a polling personnel Dinesh Gurav, who was an Encore (poll portal) operator with the Election Commission.

Mumbai’s Vanrai Police has sent a notice to Mangesh Pandilkar and Dinesh Gurav under section 41A of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The mobile phones have been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) to recover the data and fingerprints present on the phone are also being taken, the police said. “We are also investigating the CCTV cameras of the Nesco Center, which may help us to find out how the mobile phone reached inside the centre and also investigating whether there are more accused involved in this case or trying to find out who supplied this mobile phone ,” Vanrai Police said.

Notably, Ravindra Waikar won the Mumbai North-West constituency by a small margin of 48 votes. The constituency witnessed a close fight between both Shiv Sena factions – Eknath Shinde’s Ravindra Waikar and Uddhav Thackeray’s Amol Kirtikar.

The constituency witnessed a close fight between both Shiv Sena factions – Ravindra Waikar from Eknath Sinde’s Shiv Sena and Amol Kirtikar from Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena (UBT). After the final result, Waikar was declared winner by just 48 votes.