The brother-in-law of newly elected Mumbai North West Lok Sabha MP Ravindra Waikar was booked for allegedly using a mobile phone at a counting centre on June 4 – when the Lok Sabha Election results 2024 were announced, a police official said on Saturday.

A case was filed against Waikar’s kin Mangesh Pandilkar on Wednesday for his alleged act inside a counting centre in Goregaon, which is part of Waikar’s constituency.

“Pandilkar was booked on the complaint of polling personnel Dinesh Gurav. An independent candidate noticed the former using a mobile phone despite a ban on such devices at the counting centre and alerted the returning officer. The RO, in turn, approached Vanrai police,” the official was quoted by PTI as saying.

Pandilkar was booked under Indian Penal Code section 188 (disobeying official order), the official added. 

Ravindra Waikar, a Shiv Sena candidate, won the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha seat by 48 votes.

Kin used phone to unlock EVM?

A report emerged on Sunday, claiming that Mangesh Pandilkar was using the phone, which was connected to the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). Mid-day cited police as saying that this mobile phone was used for generating the OTP that unlocked the EVM machine.

The incident reportedly occurred inside the NESCO Centre during the counting of votes for the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha seat on June 4.

As per the report, the police sent the mobile phone to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) to find the mobile phone data and call records. “We are also checking if the mobile phone was used for any other reason,” Vanrai police official was quoted by Mid-day as saying.

A clip of the Mid-day article went viral on Sunday, which many opposition leaders questioning the “transparency in our electoral process”.

What Opposition is saying

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the EVMs in India are a “black box,” and “nobody is allowed to scrutinise them”. He posted on X, “ Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process. Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability.”

Meanwhile, the Congress raised a few other questions in connection with the allegations against the Ravindra Waikar’s relative’

“Why was the mobile phone of a relative of the NDA candidate connected to the EVM? How did the mobile phone reach the place where votes were being counted?” the Congress asked on X.

Shiv Sena UBT leader Aaditya Thackeray alleged that “the Entirely Compromised- election commission has refused to share CCTV footage of the counting centre.” He said, “I guess it’s trying to avoid another Chandigarh moment…Once a traitor, always a traitor!”

Another Shiv Sena UBT leader, Priyanka Chaturvedi, said, “It is the right of the candidate to seek CCTV footage of the counting day, yet it has been denied by the Mumbai Suburban District Collector to Amol Kirtikar ji who EC claims has lost by 48 votes.”

What BJP leaders said

Former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said “Indian EVMs are custom designed, secure and isolated from any network or media – No connectivity, no bluetooth, wifi, Internet. ie there is no way in. Factory programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed.”

Chandrasekhar was reacting to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s comment on the use of EVMs during election process. Musk had on Saturday sought the elimination of EVMs from the elections.

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Published: 16 Jun 2024, 12:50 PM IST

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