Kasargod: In a shocking disclosure, a polling officer in Kerala has claimed that a CPM legislator threatened to chop off his legs for questioning bogus voting during local body polls here last month. The Kerala State election Commission has sought a report on the incident from the Kasargod District Collector and the Returning Officer concerned.
Prof K M Sreekumar, a professor with the Kerala Agricultural University's Peelicode Centre, has lodged a complaint regarding the incident with the Kerala State Election Commission. He has cited Uduma legislator K Kunhiraman as the one who threatened him.
The incident took place on December 14 at the polling booth set up at the Lower Primary School at Pakam Cherkapara (East).
In his complaint, Prof Sreekumar quoted Kunhiraman's threat.
"You remain seated on the presiding officer's chair and let the first polling officer examine the voter ID cards and other documents. If you don’t listen to what we are telling you politely, your legs will be chopped off,” the MLA reportedly said as per the complaint.
Interestingly, Prof Sreekumar is also a Leftist and is also the president of the Peelicode unit of the Teacher's Organisation of Kerala Agricultural University.
Meanwhile, Kunhiraman, 72, has a different take on the incident.
"I was not a voter in Sreekumar's booth. After casting my vote in the west booth in the same polling station, I intervened when a differently-abled voter was intercepted by officials. When I said that the presiding officer need not examine the documents in place of the polling officer, Sreekumar raised a hue and cry. I just called up the Collector and informed him about the incident. I didn’t issue any threat," Kunhiraman claimed.
Prof Sreekumar's account
Prof Sreekumar narrated the events on the polling day in his complaint. "This booth had only CPM polling agents. On the previous day of voting, polling agents came and said that last time the poll percentage was 94 per cent and they expected a high percentage this time as well. At that time itself, I sensed there was something wrong. When I said that we will carry out the task of identifying voters by examining voter identity cards and other documents, a CPM polling agent Vijayan replied saying "let’s see." The polling agents created problems when we examined the voter identity cards in the morning. They continued creating all sorts of problems. The CPM block panchayat candidate K Manikandan also questioned the poll officials for examining the cards. Subsequently, K Kunhiraman, MLA, came to cast his vote.
Based on a phone call from the MLA, the district collector also told me that the documents are to be examined by the first polling officer and let it continue in that manner.
With the threat continuing, the examination of documents was done only occasionally. When a voter who cast his vote in the morning came again in the afternoon, he was not allowed. This person had no documents when intercepted. He came again with another card. With the polling agents creating a ruckus there was no other option but to allow him to vote. This was repeated several times," Sreekumar stated.
Video footage of bogus voting available. I have filed the complaint on the strength of the video footage of bogus voting. After the victory celebrations, now it is time for the political parties for some introspection and rectification. Notwithstanding the delay in lodging the complaint, I decided to go public with my experience with the intention that let there be some reconsideration and self-introspection on this front.