Mumbai: Activists rally for EVM-mukt polls at August Kranti Maidan

Updated: Aug 10, 2019, 08:01 IST | Hemal Ashar

The protest began at the August Kranti Maidan at Gowalia Tank where activist Firoze Mithiborwala highlighted the symbolism

Mumbai: Activists rally for EVM-mukt polls at August Kranti Maidan
Activists at the Chaityabhoomi in Dadar-Shivaji Park with drumbeats for an EVM-free election. Pic/Atul Kamble

A clutch of protesters from different organisations took to the streets on Friday morning to bring awareness to their demand for doing away with Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and bringing back paper ballots. The protest began at the August Kranti Maidan at Gowalia Tank where activist Firoze Mithiborwala highlighted the symbolism. "It was from here that Mahatma Gandhi issued the Quit India speech on August 8, 1942, decreeing that the British must leave India immediately."

"We say that EVMs must leave the country immediately. These machines can be tampered with. We need to go back to the paper ballot. This is vital as the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections will be held in October 2019," Mithiborwala said. Activist Jyoti Badekar said the group reached Mani Bhavan on Laburnum Road but was stopped from marching on foot on the designated route towards Shivaji Park. "The police stopped us, so we instead took public transport and reached the endpoint of our protest route at Shivaji Park and then a few metres on to Chaityabhoomi. There was heavy police presence barring us from accessing various spaces like the inside of Chaityabhoomi. We did not want to create trouble, simply wanted to pay our tribute while making our 'abolish EVM' point," she said.

Ravi Bhilane near the Shivaji Maharaj statue, said, "Our focus is on the October elections. We want an EVM-free election everywhere and forever." Some dhol sounds from student bodies too lent their support to the move. A Kazi of the All India Students Federation (AISF) who was beating the drums said, "I am here to salute Shivaji Maharaj. He was for unity not for divisiveness as we see in the country today. We want a fair, transparent voting process."

'Change must come'

Arif Naseem Khan from the Congress who was at the start point said, "I supported these protests because I am with people. If the public has lost confidence in the EVMs and there is a public perception that they are being tampered with to win elections, then it is simple, change must come." When Khan was told that EVMs were introduced when his party was in power, he insisted that he is supporting the anti-EVM sentiment, "so that people's confusion and suspicion about the election process is cleared." "When there is skepticism and doubt, then this is extremely dangerous for a democracy," Khan stated adding, "the Election Commission needs to dispel these doubts and reinforce the faith of the people in the voting process, they have to act on it as an independent body." The activists under the EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan umbrella finally moved to Chaityabhoomi where they raised the decibel level and pushed forth their EVM-mukt rallying cry.

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