The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday demanded suspension of Returning Officer Gagandeep Singh Virk, who they alleged entered the strong room of Gill Assembly constituency at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana, a charge refuted by district election officer.
Claimed that the RO allegedly stayed inside for 15 minutes despite protests by AAP activists who were guarding the strong room, Senior AAP leader HS Phoolka and the party’s candidate from Gill seat Jiwan Singh Sangowal demanded Virk’s immediate suspension and registration of an FIR against him.
Phoolka accused Virk of entering the strong room where EVMs have been kept.
“He had not taken any candidate with him when he visited the spot,” he said, alleging it could be for tempering.
AAP national convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal also demanded Virk’s suspension.
Meanwhile, refuting charges, District Election Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner Ravi Bhagat said “there is no breach of the strong room as every thing is under seal and security.”
“Allegations of the entry of outsiders in the strong room against the Returning Officer-cum-District Development and Panchayat Officer Gagandeep Singh Virk have been found baseless,” Bhagat said.
He said that no evidence of any such incident has been found and “this allegation is baseless and without any proof”.
A team, led by Additional Deputy Commissioner Mohinderpal Gupta and Additional Deputy Commissioner Police Surinder Lamba, has probed the incident and found nothing.
He said the team checked CCTV cameras, also recorded the statements of the officials of the central security forces, which made it clear that allegation were baseless.
Bhagat said Sangowal along with other party leaders and candidates, contesting from Gill constituency, could visit the PAU strong room.
“They can verify CCTV footage, examine the security and seals. They can have a view of the strong room daily at 11 AM in the presence of the Returning Officer,” he said.
Bhagat said the Chief Election Officer of Punjab has been apprised of the incident.
Defending himself, Virk said that RO can visit and check the safety aspect of strong room from outside. “For this, it is not mandatory for him to take along the candidates each time.”