Hours after the Election Commission suspended four officials and ordered repolling at a polling station in southern Assam after an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was found in a BJP candidate's wife's vehicle on Thursday evening, the poll panel on Friday suspended an armed escort official on the basis of the report submitted by the Special General Observer.
The EC said in a statement that following the receipt of the report from the Special General Observer, armed escort officer Luhit Gohain, a sub-inspector (armed branch) in the Third Assam Police Battalion, Titabor, has been suspended.
The Commission has directed repolling at Polling Station 149 in Indira M.V. School of Ratabari (SC) LAC, it said.
Earlier in the day, the EC in a statement had said that the presiding officer, Sahab Uddin Talukdar, first polling officer Sourav Acharjee, second polling officer Abdul Mumit Choudhary, and third polling officer Sahab Uddin Tapadar have been placed under suspension and repolling has been ordered at the Indira M.V. School polling station under the Ratabari Assembly constituency in the state.
"Although the seals of the EVM were found intact, it has nevertheless been decided to do a repoll at the Indira M.V. School polling station as an added precautionary measure," the statement said.
EC car breaks down, BJP candidate offers help
The statement said that after the official car carrying the polled EVM machine to Karimganj broke down, the officials boarded a passing private car which was subsequently surrounded by a mob of about 50 people who started pelting stones at them.
The mob at Kanaishil (under Karimganj district) alleged that the EVM was being taken to be tampered with. The private car was owned by the wife of BJP candidate of the neighbouring Patharkandi constituency, Krishnendu Paul.
The statement added that due to heavy rains on Thursday night, the roads were muddy due to which the official car of the polling personnel broke down, following which they boarded a private vehicle along with the EVM and other materials without checking the ownership of the car.
Immediately after receiving information about the incident, the District Election Officer of Karimganj along with the district Superintendent of Police (SP) reached the spot at 10.20 p.m. on Thursday night.
During the course of stone pelting, Karimganj SP Mayank Kumar sustained minor injuries on his collarbone and had to resort to firing in the air to disperse the mob.
The first polling officer, who was found missing in the commotion, was rescued early on Friday morning from a nearby area.
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in a tweet: "Every time there is an election video of private vehicles caught transporting EVMs show up... Unsurprisingly they have the following things in common: 1. The vehicles usually belong to BJP candidates or their associates..."
Over 77 per cent of the 73,44,631 voters exercised their franchise in the second phase of polling in Assam on Thursday in 39 constituencies.
Of the three-phase elections to the 126-member Assam Assembly, the third and final phase of polling will be held in 40 seats on April 6.
Nearly 80 per cent of 81,09,815 voters cast their votes on March 27 in the first phase of polling in 47 constituencies. The results will be declared on May 2.
(With inputs from IANS)