On May 21, 2019, National Dastak, an online news portal, published a video with a title, “EVM बदलने पर SP-BSP कार्यकर्ता ने किया चक्का जाम,जमकर हुई लड़ाई!/ PROTEST AGAINST MODI IN EVM (SP-BSP workers have jammed the roads over a row on the exchange of EVMs -translated)”. At the beginning of the video, a visual of a few men inspecting a school bus and other vehicles carrying hundreds of EVMs can be seen.
Throughout the video, a caption inscribed in the video reads, “यूपी के चंदौली में ईवीएम में धांधली – वीडियो वायरल होने के बाद मचा हंगामा – अफ़ज़ल अंसारी ने किया विरोध प्रदर्शन – कई राज्य में ईवीएम का खेल शुरू! (EVM fraud in UP’s Chandauli – Viral video has caused a ruckus -Afzal Ansari has staged a protest – The game of EVMs has begun in many states -translated)”. The video also explicitly stated that it is from Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh.
Alt News had earlier debunked the video in March 2019 when it was circulated with a false narrative that PM Modi, Amit Shah and the Election Commission had hatched a conspiracy to store electronic voting machines in strong rooms, which were then transported in an unnumbered school bus and two Bolero jeeps. It was found that the video was shot in November 2018 when Congress workers accused the BJP of tampering with votes, ahead of the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections. It was also claimed these EVMs reached the polling booth 48 hours after voting had concluded.
मप्र के गृहमंत्री के क्षेत्र में मतदान के 48 घंटे बाद बिना नंबर की गाड़ी से ईवीएम स्ट्रांग रूम में जमा कराने का प्रयास हुआ।
—भाजपा को जिताने के लिये ईवीएम बदलने की सरकारी साज़िश..?
कलेक्टर, एसपी समेत निर्वाचन कार्य में लगे तमाम लोगों पर सख़्त कार्यवाही कर लोकतंत्र की रक्षा हो। pic.twitter.com/lj588NdyA5
— MP Congress (@INCMP) November 30, 2018
However, the Chief Electoral Officer, Madhya Pradesh claimed that these were ‘reserve’ EVMs, stationed at police stations and were meant to be used as replacement for malfunctioning machines during polling. “Such machines were to be stored separately from polled EVMs. Strong room having polled EVMs was neither opened nor was supposed to be opened,” read the quote-tweet by CEO MP.
These are EVMs kept as ‘Reserve’ stationed at some Police stations, to be used as replacement for malfunctioning machines during Poll. Such machines were to be stored separately from polled EVMs. Strong room having Polled EVMs was neither opened nor was supposed to be opened. https://t.co/usco7xQpD1
— CEOMPElections (@CEOMPElections) November 30, 2018
According to a report published by NDTV, government officials were not giving a clear answer on the issue. Alt News also found the same video uploaded on YouTube at least five months ago.
Controversy over EVMs in Chandauli
A controversy did erupt over the allegation raised by the opposition parties of EVMs being unloaded from a truck without any security in Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh.
Without any comment, an EVM video from Chandauli, UP.
— Ravi Nair (@t_d_h_nair) May 20, 2019
However, the CEO UP allayed the apprehensions over the security of EVMs. He said, “In Chandauli, unused EVMs were unloaded in the store located on the Mandi Parishad premises (where strong rooms also exist) after informing representatives of all political parties. Suddenly, the representatives of a political party raised objection. They demanded that unused EVMs should be kept in the district collectorate. Later, the EVMs were shifted to the collectorate premises with representatives of all political parties present during the shifting.”
It may be noted that complaints regarding EVMs had indeed been raised by the opposition parties in Chandauli, MP. However, the video report published by National Dastak has passed off an old video from Madhya Pradesh as pertaining to the protest in Chandauli.
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.