A woman official from the Excise Department and three of the State government employees, who entered the storage room adjoining the strongroom, where EVMs and VVPAT units from the Madurai Lok Sabha constituency were kept on Saturday, have been placed under suspension.
S. Srinivasan, an office assistant, Raja Prakash, an assistant, and Surya Prakash, a data entry operator with Madurai Corporation, had accompanied K. Sampoornam, Special Tahsildar at the Assistant Commissioner (Excise) office in Madurai, to the counting centre.
Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo told journalists here on Sunday that the District Election Officer (DEO) had been asked to submit a detailed report on whether Ms. Sampooranam had permission to enter the storage room, where “some papers, seal and other documents” were kept.
“We sought a report from the DEO,” he said. A showcause notice has been issued to M. Guruchandran, Assistant Commissioner (Excise), the designated Assistant Returning Officer for the Madurai West Assembly segment that comes under the Madurai parliamentary constituency.
Denying the claim that the official went to the strongroom, Mr. Sahoo said she went only to the storage room, where she “saw some papers.”
Rejecting speculations about the possibility of entering the strongroom, the CEO said it was not at all possible to enter it since it was under the control of the CRPF personnel and State police personnel. “So, there is no possibility of breach in the strongroom,” he added.
Referring to a representation submitted by the DMK, the CPI (M) and the VCK to him on Sunday morning, Mr. Sahoo said the DEO has been asked to provide a point-by-point reply to the issues raised by the parties.
In the representation submitted by DMK MP R.S. Bharathi, CPI (M) State Secretary K. Balakrishnan, CPI leader R. Mutharasan and VCK president Thol. Thirumavalavan to the CEO, it was alleged that one of the locks of a room in the vicinity was not sealed in Madurai Medical College, where the EVMs and VVPAT units were kept.
They alleged that it was an attempt to indulge in malpractices over postal votes. They also sought to know how the official was allowed entry inside the campus and as to how she was allowed without a valid ID card and the reason. The party leaders levelled allegations against Madurai Collector for not being aware of the incident till it was flagged by CPI (M) candidate Su. Venkatesan.