Six persons — including the entire four-member team of polling centre officials, a Village Defence Party (VDP) member engaged on security duty and a cameraperson engaged by the Election Commission — were on Saturday arrested on charges of booth capturing and influencing voters at a polling centre under the Guwahati Lok Sabha constituency during the final phase of polling in Assam.
The EC action came after the opposition parties — Bharatiya Janata Party, Asom Gana Parishad and Aam Admi Party — moved the Chief Electoral Officer seeking re-poll and action against those involved in the electoral malpractice in the polling centre after a local private news channel Dy365 on Friday telecast video recording of poll proceedings at the polling centre which showed the VDP member accompanying voters to the covered enclosure where the Electronic Voting Machine was kept and guiding them.
The six arrested persons included Presiding Officer Paresh Hazarika and the three polling officers Ajoy Nath Bezbarua, Rupam Mazumdar, Rakhal Choudhury, VDP member Bimal Boro and cameraperson engaged by the Election Commission Vidyut Saikia.
Chief Electoral Officer Vijayendra told The Hindu that the EC had ordered that a re-poll be held at the polling centre on Monday. The particular polling station No.35 is located at Bornijora L.P. School under the Jalukbari Assembly constituency.
The polling station with total 736 voters (equal number of male and female voters) was categorised as a safe polling station in which one police constable and a home guard are engaged on duty on the door of the polling booth and five VDP members are engaged on duty outside the booth to help the voters form queues and a VDP member has no duty inside the booth.
The CEO said all the six persons had been arrested by Baihata Police of Kamrup district under Section 120(B)/171F/448/406/409 of the Indian Penal Code read with 132/135(A)/134 of the Representation of People’s Act. The Section 135(A) of the RP Act pertains to the offence of booth capturing.
Refuting allegations of large-scale rigging in his State, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said here that the occasional incident apart, it was the opposition parties’ polling agents who had failed to lodge complaints to the Election Commission.