Delhi

JNUSU polls: counting resumes after 15-hr suspension

Students clash outside the counting booth on JNU campus on Saturday.

Students clash outside the counting booth on JNU campus on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Members allegedly from ABVP storm into counting room, vandalise property; fresh scuffle breaks out between two student organisations

Counting of votes in the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union polls resumed on Saturday after it was suspended for over 15 hours on Friday after students allegedly from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) stormed into the counting room and indulged in vandalism in the early hours.

Counting resumed at 6.30 p.m. after a few tense moments on campus with thousands of students gathering outside the counting room and raising slogans against the ABVP and in support of the student-elected JNUSU election committee. A scuffle broke out in the evening between a few ABVP supporters and Left supporters.

Security beefed up

Delhi Police and CRPF personnel were seen stationed at the gate of the university. The counting finally resumed after the Grievance Redressal Committee of the university appointed a JNU professor to be present at the counting.

Election committee chairperson Himanshu Kulshrestha said the counting process had been suspended “due to the forcible entry into the counting venue and attempt to snatch away the sealed ballot boxes as well as ballot papers from our counting centres”. There was also “intimidation and violence on our election committee, including on our female members led by a presidential and a joint secretary candidate”.

The ABVP expressed deep concerns over the way the counting is being conducted and accused the JNUSU poll body of being partisan and “rigging the election in favour of Left organisations”.

Not following rules

In a statement, the ABVP said, “The Rule 5(b) of Part 3 of Appendix 1 of JNUSU constitution has been violated by the election commission. The poll body is guilty of breaking the seal of ballot box and starting the counting of central panel votes without the presence of counting agents of the candidates or candidate affiliated to the ABVP. The rule requires that the candidate or their counting agent must see every paper ballot.”

ABVP-JNU Unit president Vijay Kumar said, “Counting of votes is being done without adhering to the rules. Election Committee is not following even the bear minimum requirements of the election procedure. The biased way of handling elections has put a question mark on committee’s neutrality.”

Counting agent

Reacting to the allegations by the ABVP, the JNUSU body said, “A malicious lie is being spread that the Election Committee had not made three announcements and went forth with the entry of the counting agents. The Election Committee would like to clearly state that three announcement calls were made [with the third call announced as the last and final call] and communicated to the students gathered outside via loudspeaker.”

Mr. Kulshrestha said 14 counting agents for 10 different candidates was reported at the counting venue. After which counting process had started and sealed boxes were opened in the presence of the counting agents. As per the established norms, no new counting agent can enter the counting venue, once the seal of the boxes is opened.

The Election Committee had to reject the request of new counting agents being allowed inside that respective counting venue.

A joint statement by all JNU organisations said that they would stand by the JNUSU poll committee and that disruption of the JNUSU election counting process by the ABVP was because they had been rejected in the councillor posts in their stronghold — the science schools

The statement said that the ABVP refused to follow rules that are applicable to everyone, broke the door of SIS-I building where counting was happening, manhandled the guards on duty, snatched phones from people who were video recording and also assaulted some of the journalists who were present there.

“These acts of vandalising public property and attacking students, election committee members and guards are nothing but the reflection of their frustration of being rejected by the student community,” read the statement.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 2:32:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/jnusu-polls-counting-resumes-after-15-hr-suspension/article24957960.ece

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