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Poll officer flouts EC directive

Patna, Nov. 7: In a startling development, at least 18 electronic voting machines (EVMs) were found in the possession of a block circle inspector today in the Nalanda parliamentary constituency, where polling was held yesterday.

The block official was apparently on his way to deposit the EVMs at the strong room Bihar sharif — the headquarters of Nalanda district — in gross violation of the directives of the Election Commission, which stipulate that the machines must reach the strong room the same day.

Sunil Rajak, the circle inspector of Sarmera block, was “apprehended” with the EVMs by supporters of Rashtriya Janata Dal-supported Independent candidate Arun Kumar and the CPI. Rajak is believed to have fled while the driver of his vehicle, in which the EVMs were kept, has been taken into custody.

The Election Commission ordered an inquiry into the matter in the evening.

Chief electoral officer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh directed the Nalanda district magistrate to conduct a thorough probe. “The entire process should be recorded on video in the presence of the EC observer,” Rakesh said. Nalanda had recorded less than 30 per cent polling yesterday.

The missing EVMs were detected because these were not deposited yesterday. The machines have now been deposited at the strong room.

Leader of Opposition Rabri Devi has demanded the immediate removal of the Nalanda district magistrate and police superintendent.

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