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Vandalism disrupts JNUSU election counting process

Vandalism disrupts JNUSU election counting process

NEW DELHI: The counting of votes at the Jawaharlal Nehru University resumed after the suspension of the counting for more than 12 hours due to alleged vandalism by the right-wing students' union ABVP. The union is the student's wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent organization of Bharatiya Janata Party.

ABVP leaders allegedly broke into counting centres and roughed up Election Committee members. This happened after the results for Councillor seats in Science schools had been announced, where all the posts have been won by anti-ABVP independent candidates in their stronghold.

ABVP accused the election committee of rigging the polls in favour of Left organizations. EC is guilty of breaking the seal of the ballot box and starting the counting of Central Panel votes without the presence of counting agents of the candidates or candidate affiliated to ABVP. The rule requires that the candidate or their counting agent must see every paper ballot. This action by EC is illegal, mentioned ABVP in its press release. The EC panel, on the other hand, said they gave three calls, but no one from ABVP turned up so they had to begin. It also said the once counting starts, no one can enter or leave the building.

In a separate statement, a group of JNU's Left-wing student organizations said, "Around 4:00 am, ABVP (members) broke the glasses of the School of International Studies building. Election Committee stopped the counting indefinitely." The Left bloc alleged that the protesters also intimidated Left party members.

Shehla Rashid, former union vice president, expressed outrage over the incident. "Shocked! Never seen something like this in JNU. ABVP goons broke glass doors and forcibly tried to enter the #JNUSU_Election 2018 counting venue on Friday night. They attacked the members of Election Committee and tried to snatch ballot boxes. Counting suspended," she tweeted.

A joint statement from the All JNU Organisations supported the Left forum's version and even accused the ABVP of attacking poll panel members. "Late night on Friday, the EC made announcements calling for candidates to send their counting agents for central panel votes from the combined schools (science schools and smaller schools). ABVP did not send counting agents even after the last call was made. Long after the sealed ballot boxes were opened and counting began, ABVP resorted to violence demanding that its agents be allowed in," it said.

The Left-backed All India Students' Association (AISA), Students' Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Students' Federation (DSF) and All India Students' Federation (AISF) have come together to form the United-Left alliance.

Besides the Left bloc, there are candidates of ABVP, NSUI (National Students' Union of India) and BAPSA (Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association).

The voter turnout in the keenly contested JNUSU election on Friday was 67.8 per cent, believed to be the highest in six years. Over 5,000 students cast their votes. The results are likely to be announced on Sunday morning.

Sayantan Ghosh

Sayantan Ghosh

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