Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said the machines were reserved ones, not the polled EVMs.

Tension prevailed in Tamil Nadu’s Velachery area on Tuesday evening after individuals wearing ‘Polling Official’ badges were found carrying four voting machines, including two VVPAT machines, on their two-wheelers. The Election Commission has suspended three officials besides ordering a detailed investigation into the incident.

The public caught hold of the individuals near Taramani main road and handed them over to Velachery Police. Soon as word of officials transporting the machines on a two-wheeler spread across the constituency, members of Opposition DMK and Congress arrived in the area and were involved in an argument with local police personnel.

In the initial report, it was found that the ‘poll officials’ were corporation staffers. Apparently one of the machines fell on the road when they were riding near the Taramani main road and as they attempted to lift it, they were caught by a passer-by who stopped them with the help of local residents. The officials were also reported to have been carrying some cash.

Members of the opposition parties and the public staged a road blockade, demanding immediate arrest of the officials. The police personnel tried to pacify them and took the to the police station for further inquiries.

Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said the machines were reserved ones, not the polled EVMs. He added that as per the preliminary verbal report of the district electoral officer, two of his staff have committed the mistake, adding that they initiate strict action for any violation of the SOPs for EVM transportation.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, Velachery Returning Officer V R Subbulakshmi said that three officials, including a corporation worker, have been suspended by the EC and they are carrying out a detailed investigation into the incident.

“Two ballot units, a control unit and a VVPAT machine were being carried by those officials. The ballot units and the control unit were reserved ones that were to be used in case of a technical snag in the designated machines. The VVPAT was used in a mock poll and it was a defective piece. After the polling ended, the officials were instructed to hand over the polled EVMs in Anna University and the unpolled ones to our strong room set up at a school in Tiruvanmaiyur. The officials should transfer the machines only with police protection in a lorry to the Anna University. They should check everything and then return to transfer the remaining unused machines to the strong room. Instead of following this process, the officials were carrying the unused ones in a two-wheeler which is against EC rules,” she said.

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