Thiruvananthapuram: About 200 contract employees were retrenched allegedly over the poll-roll fraud controversy, which had forced the Election Commission into the back foot ahead of the April 6 Assembly election in Kerala.
The retrenched data entry operators, appointed through Keltron to handle the details of voters, had been based in the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) in Thiruvananthapuram, 14 district collectorates, and taluk offices under them.
It has been alleged that they were retrenched over suspicion that they had leaked the voters’ list to the Opposition. The Chief Electoral Officer, Teeka Ram Meena, has written to the Director General of Police to probe the leak.
During the run-up to the election, the then Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that 4.34 lakh bogus voters had been included in the electoral roll. He had then produced documents to supplement his charge.
The Election Commission ordered a probe after the Opposition’s ‘Operation Twins’, launched to scrutinize the electoral rolls to find duplicated names, revealed widespread anomalies in the voters’ list.
The poll panel conducted a hasty probe over a few days just before the election and found 38,586 names had been duplicated in the list. After the counting of votes, the Central Election Commission directed the CEO to investigate the leak of the electoral roll.
It was based on this directive that the CEO wrote to the DGP, and retrenched the contract workers. The workers, meanwhile, said the list was available on the Election Commission’s website.
They termed it an injustice to fire them saying the list had been leaked. Additionally, voters’ list, with the photographs of the voters, were provided to all political parties also.