GUWAHATI, April 28 � Different students� bodies have strongly objected to using of educational institutions as strong rooms to store the electronic voting machines and demanded that from the next elections, the Government and the Election Commission (EC) must make some alternative arrangements to ensure that the academic atmosphere is not affected.
The elections in Assam were held in two phases on April 4 and 11 and as the counting of votes will take place only on May 13, the EVMs have been stored under tight security in 48 strong rooms, majority of which are located in educational institutions.
Commenting on the issue, All Assam Students� Union (AASU) adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said that the Government and the EC should have made alternative arrangements to keep the EVMs instead of using the educational institutions. He pointed out that the students of Cotton College are suffering because the Union Hall of the College is being used as a strong room, while, the two departments located on top of the hall had to be shifted, causing hardship to the students. He said that the Government and the EC could have used the National games Stadium or other halls as strong room.
Bhattacharya said that though the holding of polls in educational institutions cannot be avoided, it is not fair to keep class rooms blocked for more than a month. He pointed out that most towns of the state have public halls and those can easily be turned into strong rooms. �The Election Commission is reportedly spending around Rs 120 crore for the holding of elections in
Assam and the Government can easily spend some more amount to construct permanent strong rooms to be used for elections and the same can be used as public halls all round the year,� he added.
President of the All Bodo Students� Union (ABSU), Promode Boro also echoed similar views and said that blocking of class rooms for more than a month is unfair for the students. He alleged that the blocking of the class rooms for more than a month proved that the Government is not interested in the well being of the student community.
Boro said that the Government should chalk out a plan to constrict permanent strong rooms in the offices of the Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers to store the EVMs in all future elections and a policy decision should be taken not to use the educational institutions as strong rooms.