HYDERABAD: As India waits with bated breath to know the people’s mandate in Telangana, it’s the central paramilitary forces, who are guarding EVMs across the state amid a three-tier security structure with CCTVs in place. The fate of contestants is sealed in these machines in 48 locations and will be opened on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in a significant late-night decision on Saturday, the Election Commission permitted the Congress and its allies to deploy vigilance teams at EVM strong rooms.
Responding to an urgent representation made by TPCC treasurer, Gudur Narayana Reddy, fearing tampering and replacement of polled-EVMs, the Election Commission of India permitted the Congress-led People’s Front to depute vigilance teams at strong rooms where EVMs are kept.
In his representation, Gudur Narayana, said, “Many of our People’s Front leaders have expressed apprehension that the spare EVMs may be tampered with, and votes could be cast in favour of TRS. EVMs may be replaced wherever they feel that the People’s Front is ahead in the fray. In view of the above reason, kindly permit us to deploy our cadre to keep a vigil on the strong rooms where EVMs are kept.”
In response, chief electoral officer, Rajat Kumar told Gudur Narayana over the phone that the contesting candidates could deploy their teams at strong rooms. Subsequently, TPCC chief N Uttam Kumar Reddy spoke to all the candidates of People’s Front asking them to deploy dedicated teams at strong rooms till the counting day on December 11.
At the strong rooms, the first layer is the inner security ring that is fortified by central paramilitary forces and remaining two layers are guarded by state police.
At least 25 companies of paramilitary force comprising 90 policemen each have been deployed at these key locations. On Saturday, no one was allowed anywhere near the premises of counting stations. On counting day, EVMs will be opened in front authorised representatives of political parties.
All doors and ventilators at each location are shut and the lone door, which accesses the hall has been sealed with armed personnel at the entrance.
Speaking to TOI, additional director-general of police (law and order) Jitender said, “Arrangements have been done in accordance with Election Commission of India guidelines. Surveillance and continuous supervision are key to security,’’ told TOI.
On day of counting, Section 144 CrPC will be imposed at these locations, and a superintendent-rank officer will supervise each centre. Due to security reasons, counting at all four constituencies in South Zone of Hyderabad commissionerate will be held at West or Central zones. Counting for Chandrayangutta constituency will take place at Nizam College. For Charminar and Yakutpura constituencies, the procedure will take place at Exhibition Grounds and for Bahadurpura constituency, EVMs will be opened at Technical Education Department, Masab Tank.
Cyberabad police commissioner, VC Sajjnar, visited the counting station at Shamshabad where EVMs related to eight constituencies are stored.