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Andhra Police on lookout for MLA after EC orders immediate arrest for destroying EVM

IANS | May 22, 2024 04:30 PM

AMARAVATI: Andhra Pradesh Police were on the lookout for YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) MLA Pinneli Ramakrishna Reddy after the Election Commission of India ordered his immediate arrest for destroying an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) during polling on May 13.

Police in Palnadu district booked a case against the Macherla MLA and launched a hunt for him after the Election Commission of India took serious note of the video surfaced on Tuesday and ordered strong and immediate action.

Ramakrishna Reddy, seeking re-election from Macherla as YSRCP candidate, walked into a polling booth and flung the EVM.

The Election Commission on Wednesday asked the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to submit a compliance report by 5 p.m.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) M. K. Meena said the police raided the MLA’s house but he was not found there. “Several teams are moving around to arrest the person, ” he said.

The incident happened at the Palvai Gate polling booth in Rentachintala mandal of Palnadu district on May 13 during the simultaneous polling for the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

As the ECI took serious note of the incident and directed the Director General of Police to take strong action against those involved, the police booked a case against the MLA under 10 sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Representation of the People Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

The police have invoked sections 143, 147, 448, 427, 353, 452 and 120B of IPC.

According to CEO Meena, these are strong sections under which the punishment may go up to seven years. He said a case was initially registered against unknown persons but after going through video footage the MLA has been named the main accused. A memo in the court concerned has also been filed.

Palnadu police have sent special teams to Hyderabad to arrest Ramakrishna Reddy. The District Superintendent of Police is heading the investigation into the case.

A police team reportedly found a few convoy vehicles of the MLA near Rudraram in the Sangareddy district of Telangana. His arrest was detained for questioning.

According to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) M. K. Meena, in the Macherla Assembly constituency EVMs were damaged in seven polling stations, including police station number 202 where this incident of damage of EVM by the sitting MLA Ramakrishna Reddy was recorded in the web camera.

The video footage of all such polling stations was provided to the police by the election authorities of Palnadu district to assist them in the investigation.

The ECI took a very serious view and directed the CEO to inform the DGP to take strict criminal action against all the persons involved in these incidents so that nobody in future dares to take any such action to interfere with the peaceful conduct of the poll.

The incident of MLA damaging the EVM was recorded on the web camera at the polling booth. It came to light after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) gathered footage from various polling stations as part of the investigation into poll-related violence.

The SIT, which probed incidents of violence in Palnadu, Tirupati and Anantapur districts, submitted its report to DGP Harish Kumar Gupta on Monday.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vineet Brij Lal, who headed the 13-member SIT, identified 33 incidents of violence that took place in the three districts. A total of 22 cases in three Assembly segments of Palnadu district, seven cases in Tadipatri of Anantapur district and four cases in two Assembly segments of Tirupati district were registered.

As many as 1, 370 people were cited as accused in the FIRs registered in connection with 33 incidents of violence. The police have so far arrested 124 accused and issued notices to 94 accused under section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code. The SIT exhorted the investigating officers to complete pending arrests at the earliest.

Chief Secretary (CS) K.S. Jawahar Reddy and DGP Harish Kumar Gupta appeared before the Election Commission on May 16 to personally explain the reasons for the failure of the administration to contain post-poll violence.

The Election Commission had approved the transfer of the Palnadu district Collector and the Tirupati Superintendent of Police (SP), and suspension of Palnadu and Anantapur SPs, and 12 subordinate police officers in the three districts. A departmental inquiry has been initiated against these officers.

The poll panel directed the Chief Secretary and the DGP to take stern action against those involved in the violence.

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