The truth of West Bengal booth loot video clip
WEST Bengal’s recent panchayat elections made national headlines more for violence than anything else. At least 14 people lost their lives and many others were injured in the clashes.
Can this happen in India of 2018? That’s what everyone asked. The clip of the clashes went viral. Critics of the state government used it overwhelmingly as a compelling evidence of vote rigging. INDIA TODAY's ‘Viral Test’ team examined the footage closely.
Party symbols of the BJP, the TMC, the CPM and the Congress were clearly visible on the paper ballots. A bundle of pink-coloured ballots — used in panchayat committee elections — could also be seen.
A label identifying the room as a polling hall in English and Bengali further confirmed the video was definitely linked to a panchayati vote in West Bengal.
The man caught on tape was not alone. A scrutiny of the audio suggested he was accompanied by some other people taking stills and recording his ballot stamping on their phone cameras. INDIA TODAY TV’s team now found a man who was present in the booth when it captured rigging. The man, who requested anonymity, disclosed what happened in Rajarhat Tehsil.
Election officials told our crew that candidates in West Bengal are listed in Bengali alphabetical order on paper ballots — in accordance with the first letter of their names. We now examined the candidate list alphabetically. The exercise helped us identify the precise seat— Seat Number 33 in Patharghata.
That’s where BJP nominee Achint Kumar Naskar, the TMC’s Gour Naskar, Bapi Biswas of the CPM and the Congress' Ratna Bhattacharya contested from.
And that’s how their names were placed in Bengali order. We later found their names matched those shown on paper ballot. The clip of booth capturing in West Bengal panchayati elections tested positive in India Today’s Viral Test.