Cyber-Expert Syed Shuja’s controversial allegations about EVM tampering during the 2014 General Elections has sparked off controversy over the validity of using these machines during elections.
Priyanka Yadav | The New Leam
A man named Syed Shuja who has been given political asylum in U.S. made shocking revelations about tampering of EVMs in the 2014 General Elections. He made claims via a conference on Skype about the alleged tampering of EVM machines to manipulate the votes in the 2014 General Elections. He also claimed that his team members were killed but he escaped and obtained political asylum in the U.S. Shuja made sure that his face was covered and did not substantiate his arguments with substantial proof. The controversial charges brought forward by Shuja once again enliven the debate on the credibility of EVMs in India and the absence of political accountability.
Indian Journalist Associations (Europe) in collaboration with Foreign Press Association organised a press conference to demonstrate how Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) can be hacked. The event was held in London on Monday 21st January and many dignitaries and politicians both from the ruling party and the Opposition parties in India attended the press conference. The demonstration was done by a US cyber expert Syed Shuja who is currently seeking asylum in US after alleged death threats. Ahead of the General Elections (2019), the demonstrator promised to show how EVM machines can be hacked and votes can be manipulated. The demonstrator made a claim that in the 2014 General Election, EVM machines was hacked and votes were rigged. The 2014 General Election was won by the Bharitye Janta Party (BJP) by a sweeping majority. BJP went ahead to form government at the Centre with Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister.
The demonstrator Syed Shuja did not appear at the conference in person but addressed the meet via Skype to make the demonstration. Syed Shuja is a cyber-security researcher and was based in Hyderabad prior to seeking asylum in the US. In the past he has worked with the Electronics Corporation of India Limited, the company that had been given the tender to make EVMs in India. As per Shuja’s claims he was a part of the team which designed EVMs for 2014 General Elections.
Shuja did not produce any evidence backing his claims as he said that following death threats that he received in India, he had to submit the evidence to the US to seek asylum. Shuja has promised to release the evidence soon for the media and the Indian public.
Besides his claims on the General Elections, 2014 being rigged, he made several other charges that have captured the nation’s imagination. He mentioned that even Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party were interested in knowing the drill to hack the EVMS. Ex-BJP minister Gopinath Munde who died days after assuming to Office, did not die an accidental death he was rather murdered, Shuja claimed that Munde knew about the EVM tampering and wanted to investigate the matter but before he could take any concrete step hew was killed by a BJP leader.
He also claimed that journalist Gauri Lankesh, who ran the newspaper Gauri Lankesh Patrika, was killed outside her house because she had agreed to write about the EVM conspiracy in her newspaper. Shuja charged the BJP government for giving him death threats he mentioned that after the election of 2014 he and his team were called by the BJP to demonstrate how the EVM machine can be hacked, he claimed that after the demonstration was made by him and his team, they were shot by point blank range. His team members died but he managed to escape and since then he is in U.S. seeking asylum.
The claims that were made by Syed Shuja have once again raised questions on the credibility of EVMs and whether they could so easily be tapered. The BJP has denied all the allegations that were made against it and even gone out to say that it is a politically motivated strategy by the Opposition to defame the Modi government. Although, Shuja has not validated any of his claims with evidence his allegations against the BJP has led to an explosive controversy. The revelations made by Syed Shuja have also led to the EC’s preparation towards lodging an FIR against him and press criminal charges against him.