At strong rooms where EVMs kept, AAP tightens vigil

Amil Bhatnagar
Delhi elections, Delhi Assembly elections, Delhi elections 2020, Delhi elections voter turnout, Delhi assembly elections 2020, AAP, BJP, Congress, Elections news, Indian Express

Officials carry EVM outside the strong room on the eve of Delhi Assembly elections, at Akshardham in New Delhi on Friday. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

Votes cast by 90,98,337 people across 70 assembly constituencies Saturday lie locked in 21 strong rooms set up by the Election Commission.

According to EC officials, the city has been divided into 11 regions — North, North-West, North-East, Shahdara, East, West, Central, South, South-West, South East and New Delhi. Within each, there are one or more locations that contain votes of the assembly constituencies falling under it.

Most strong rooms are in public schools or government establishments. Each has heavy security deployment, and is fortified with barricades and barbed wire.

Amid allegations by the AAP of EVM tampering, the party announced their men will guard the rooms as well. Locals and security officials claimed party workers have been filtering in and out of the strong room locations, without being allowed inside.

At the strong room in Jija Bai Industrial Training Institute for Women in Siri Fort, an extra layer of barbed wire runs along the perimeter. Boards have also been placed to block regular view. A Delhi Police PCR van and armed CAPF guards man the entrance, stopping and checking any person who comes within 50 metres.

“As per EC guidelines, only an agent of the candidate is allowed in. We are not letting people hover around,” said a security official.

At Akshardham, the entrance to the CWG village has more buzz than usual, as two DTC buses ferrying CAPF guards enter the compound. Curious residents walk up to the gates occasionally to have a look at the strong room. Armed guards will work in shifts as security measures will be in place till the counting is over.