After the Foreign Press Association disassociated itself from the series of claims made by the self-proclaimed cyber 'expert' regarding the 'hackability' of EVMs in India, the Italian journalist Deborah Bonetti present at the dais, too, distanced herself from the credibility of the speaker.
In a tweet, Bonetti said that the speaker 'should not have been given a platform' as he 'did not follow up his claims with any proof' reiterating her stand on the lack of evidence.
The speaker identifying himself as Syed Shuja made consequential claims in the presence of Congress senior leader Kapil Sibal, but received backlash for failing to produce evidence for the wild allegations.
Amid the controversy that has triggered over his claims, Foreign Press Association, co-organiser 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).
Here are the series of allegations that Shuja made at the event:
According to a report published on the website of Congress-owned newspaper National Herald, Foreign Press Association was the co-organizer of the event organized by Indian Journalists Association (Europe) in London wherein a ‘US-based cyber expert’ has promised to demonstrate "how elections can be sabotaged through cyber attacks".
It also states that "Only invited guests will be attending the presentation in London", which coincides with the fact that senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal was present at the event.
The outlandish and explosive claims, made in a cloak and dagger manner, could not be immediately confirmed. He claimed he was part of a team at the public sector Electronic Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), which designed and developed the EVMs. He was presented at a press conference organised by the Indian Journalists' Association (Europe). Although he appeared on screen through Skype, his face was masked.
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 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 the foolproof nature of ECI EVMs deployed in elections in India.
It needs to be reiterated that these EVMs are manufactured in Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) under very strict supervisory and security conditions and there are rigorous Standard Operating Procedures meticulously observed at all stages under the supervision of a Committee of eminent technical experts constituted way back in 2010.
It is being separately examined as to what legal action can and should be taken in the matter.