On Monday, a self-proclaimed U.S-based EVM expert made shocking claims at an event organized by the Indian Journalists' Association in London, regarding the 2014 Lok Sabha polls held in India, saying and votes that were placed through the electronic voting machine in 2014 polls were "rigged". Expert hacker Syed Shuja, while addressing the press conference via Skype, also had claimed to have designed the EVMs used in India, later adding that the EVMs used in 2014 Lok Sabha polls were rigged.
Amid the controversy that has triggered over his shocking claims, Foreign Press Association, co-organizer of the London event, has termed the allegations as "unsubstantiated".
In a series of tweets, the Foreign Press Association has said that the cyber expert has made "very serious allegations" on corruption and intimation in 2014 in India, adding that he was attacked a few days ago (an attack which he allegedly survived). Furthermore, he also claimed to have been attacked over the accusations made by him that the last 2014 general elections held in India were "rigged", as per the tweets by FPA.
Read the tweets here:
Her tweet here reads, "900 million people are eligible to vote in India this year. Syed Shuja is making very strong but unsubstantiated allegations on rigging that "happening even now":
Not only this, Italian Journalist Deborah Bonetti, who was moderating the event and asking questions to the cyber hacker from the stage, also made clear statements that the EVM expert, who is seeking political asylum in the US, had "no proof at all" for the "extreme allegations" that he made about the elections in India and in London. Notably, he also claimed that the Brexit referendum that took place in 2016 "was also hacked".
Read the tweets here:
Furthermore, the cyber expert also claimed that BJP leader Gopinath Munde was "killed" because he was aware of EVM hacking in the elections during the press conference on Monday. However, he could not provide any evidence to back up his claim. Syed Shuja also claimed that NIA officer Tanzil Mohammad, who was probing the BJP leader's death, was planning to file an FIR noting that Gopinath Munde had been murdered, but was himself killed.
Speaking to Republic TV on Tuesday, NIA has cleared the air saying that officer Tanzil Mohammad was shot dead over a property dispute, and his killer Muneer had also admitted to his crime, contradicting Shuja's claim over Munde's murder.
Notably, Dr. Sudhir Gupta, head of forensic medicals at AIIMS and the doctor who headed the post-mortem of the deceased BJP leader, while speaking to Republic TV's Editor-in-Chief at Prime Time on Monday also clarified that the case of 'homicide' in Munde's murder had been ruled out after discussing it with the Delhi police and CBI. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in October 2014 ruled out any foul play in the death of Gopinath Munde, claiming that the politician had died due to injuries sustained in a road accident.
In the light of the controversial and baseless allegations made by the EVM hacking expert, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday also issued a statement, saying that it firmly stands by the foolproof nature of the EVMs. The ECI standing firmly on the foolproof nature of the EVMs has also said that it is mulling legal action on the matter. It added that the EVMs are made in India under strict supervision.
Here is an extract of the ECI's statement:
It has come to the notice of Election Commission of India that an event claiming to demonstrate EVMs used by ECI can be tampered with, has been organised in London.
Whereas, ECI has been wary of becoming a party to this motivated slugfest, ECI firmly stands by the empirical facts about foolproof nature of ECI EVMs deployed in elections in India.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal was in attendance of the event. However, responding to the questions raised on the presence of Kapil Sibal at the event, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that Sibal was invited at event, held under the aegis of the Indian Journalists' Association(Europe) by a journalist and he went there in his personal capacity, and not as a representative of the Congress party.
He also said that the Congress and other parties want that there should be a system in place to check 50 per cent of voter verifiable paper audits trails (VVPAT) to reassure the country on the infallibility of the EVMs, which was also pronounced by the Opposition leaders during the mega Opposition rally-led by West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata.
The event has come into light ahead of a committee being set up by the Opposition parties alleging that BJP has been manipulating EVMs. Congress president Rahul Gandhi interacted with the Indian Journalists' Association in August during his visit to London back in 2018.