New Delhi- The fight against EVM machines shows no signs of waning, especially with the impending Lok Sabha elections. While protesting on January 5th, Supreme Court advocates Mehmood Pracha and Bhanu Pratap were detained and later released, intensifying their discontent with the ruling government.
The Mooknayak spoke to Advocate and National Convener of ‘Mission Save Constitution’ Mehmood Pracha in regard to the future of the anti-EVM demonstrations.
The Supreme Court advocate revealed, "Starting from 13th January, our plan is to organize protests in every district, situated outside the offices of every Lok Sabha member. Additionally, on January 14th, we intend to lead a delegation to the Supreme Court. This visit aims to address the concerns of every active citizen about EVM voting and advocate for our cause in a more formal setting. On the 14th of January, we are organizing a delegation starting from Gate no. 4 of Patiala House Court, heading towards the Supreme Court. This procession is set to kick off at 4:00 PM, the same time when our original delegation was scheduled on the 5th of January. The police and government hindered our democratic procession on that day, and we are reclaiming our right to peacefully assemble on that day."
He continued, "Members from the initial delegation will be joined by more participants this time around, as we expect a larger turnout. Our determination is fueled by the belief in our democratic rights and the need to express our concerns freely. Multiple organizations have pledged their support for our noble cause, amplifying our voice for justice and democratic principles."
He also spoke about the importance of such a demonstration. Pracha remarked, "The primary objective of our protest is to prevent the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in elections. We are determined to ensure that our message reaches everyone. I am confident in its impact because till date every political party in the country, including the BJP, has either opposed or is currently expressing concerns about the voting system."
Taking a dig at Bharatiya Janta Party, Pracha said, "The only party that appears to be against our stance is the ruling party, obviously driven by a greed to retain power and authority. We aim to draw attention to the widespread distrust surrounding EVM voting, seeking support from various political quarters. Our collective goal is to address these concerns and promote a fair and transparent democratic process that benefits the entire nation."
The picture of detainment faced by the protestors is still fresh in Pracha’s memory as the advocate responded by saying, "I am 100% certain that the police will intervene in our future demonstrations. This is because we are exposing fraud, catching them in the act of stealing. Wherever we go, the police force will be deployed to instill fear, issue threats, use force, and resort to violence against us. This appears to be the strategy of the ruling party, as they do not have truth to support them."
But this time, he will not be alone. "As a precautionary measure, we have also announced that a team of lawyers will lead our demonstrations to shield us from any potential harassment by the police. This step is taken to ensure that our peaceful protests can proceed without interference, allowing us to voice our concerns without the fear of intimidation or physical harm," claimed Pracha.
Members have come together to form a collective to strengthen the fight. Revealing to The Mooknayak, Mehmood Pracha said, "Following our detention during the initial demonstration, we were released the same night. Undeterred by this setback, we regrouped on January 6th and established a core committee consisting of six members, including myself, Bhanu Pratap, and Prakash Ambedkar, who is the grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Our collective decision has been to initiate a nationwide strike opposing the use of EVMs."
EVM voting is not the only concern of the organization. Unnecessary raids by governmental organizations on anyone who has a dissenting voice is also being protested by ‘Mission Save Constitution’. The advocate claimed, "We have also conveyed that the illogical raids conducted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on members from the opposition party will face opposition from 'Mission Save Constitution.' We are gearing up to initiate a protest against these raids as well."
"We believe such actions are politically motivated and an attempt to suppress dissenting voices. By opposing these raids, 'Mission Save Constitution' aims to protect democratic values and uphold the principles of the Constitution. Our protest will seek justice and fair treatment for all individuals, irrespective of their political affiliations."
A gathering was originally scheduled for Friday (5th January 2024) evening at Gate number 4 of Patiala House Courts. The plan was for the delegation to walk from there to the Election Commission of India's (ECI) office, aiming to engage with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and other ECI members. Along with a number of demonstrators, the delegation spoke about a widespread distrust among citizens and experts in computer/EVM/election technology that using EVMs makes conducting free and fair elections unattainable. The delegation wanted to return to paper/physical ballots as the preferred method for elections.
However, as the protest began, the police intervened, blocking their path and preparing to detain the protestors in a police bus parked outside the gate. Amid the chaos, advocates Mehmood Pracha and Bhanu Pratap claimed that the BJP government's plan was to prevent any questioning of EVM machines, as the party benefits from their use.
Mehmood Pracha and Bhanu Pratap had announced their plan on taking the delegation well before the date, on 1st January, through a press conference.