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Pilathara voter fraud: Kerala police book three women alleged to be CPI (M) workers

The Kerala police on Thursday indicted three women believed to be Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers for electoral fraud.

They identified the accused as M.V. Salina, K.P. Sumayya, and Padmini.

The suspects have been charged for committing voter fraud in booth number 19 at Pilathara in Kannur district in Kasaragod Lok Sabha constituency segment.

According to the police, the women had impersonated absentee voters and fraudulently cast ballots on their behalf as part of a broader bid to steal the election in favour of their candidate.

Officials said they had booked the suspects as per the directions of the Returning Officer.

The District Collector, Kannur, had conducted a preliminary enquiry into the suspected voter fraud after a television channel leaked visuals purportedly showing the women voting multiple times at the same booth.

Officials said the M.V. Salina, a local panchayat member of the CPI (M), and K.P. Sumayya did not figure as voters at the booth. However, they were caught accessing the electronic voting machine on surveillance video camera.

The camera footage, which was broadcast widely on television, had prompted the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to cry foul. They demanded a re-poll and accused the CPI (M) of having undermined the integrity of the elections and rocked public confidence in the secret ballot.

The CPI (M) had countered the allegation by stating that the women had legally exercised a “companion vote” on behalf of few physically frail persons who could not access the booth on their own.

It said the women had informed the presiding officer in advance in proper format by filing the necessary application form. The party hit-back at its rivals by accusing the United Democratic Front (UDF) of having indulged in large-scale bogus voting in a booth in Taliparambu in Kannur.

Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena had on April 29 confirmed that the women had indulged in bogus voting in booth 19 at Pilathara. He also sought a report on the allegation raised by the CPI (M) from the concerned returning officer.

Meanwhile, the State police intelligence is conducting a detailed enquiry into the allegation that Kerala Police Association office bearers had tampered with the postal ballots of their fellow officers who had been deployed out of their native districts for election duty. The Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala had raised the allegation that “pro-ruling front” office bearers of the Association had committed large scale voter fraud in a postal ballot of police officers to curry favour with the State Government.

Source: thehindu.com

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