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EVM busters detained in New Delhi

Last updated on: December 13, 2010 17:52 IST

EVM busters detained in New Delhi

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Vicky Nanjappa

A group of IT experts from the United States, who had claimed that Indian Electronic Voting Machines were not tamper-proof and had asked the election body to explore other forms of voting that provide 'transparency' and security, were made to face the heat on their arrival in a wintery New Delhi on Monday.

Alex Halderman and Rop Gonggrijp, two of the three scientists who had exposed the flaws in the Election Commission's EVMs, flew in to New Delhi around 2 am on Monday and were detained immediately.

After a harrowing wait, the duo was let off later in the day.

Halderman, who spoke to rediff.com later, said he was not too surprised by the turn of events.

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Image: EVM report authors (left to right) J Alex Halderman, Hari K Prasad, and Rop Gonggrijp holding the EVM that they hacked into
Photographs: Indiaevm.org
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'We did ask for a reason but they refused to give us any'

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"We did ask for a reason but they refused to give us any. It is unclear why they wanted us deported in the first place and also why we were detained. I suppose it is to do with the EVM issue. Last year, we discovered several flaws in the system and pointed it out. It appears to be that someone is out to harass us because of this. Otherwise, why else would we be detained," Halderman said.

"We were expecting this after Hariprasad's (the Indian expert in the team) arrest and we realised that this is the reward for trying to seriously expose a flaw, which was according to all of us, was beneficial to the country," he said.

"I cannot tell you about the officials reasons, because there were none. We had a valid visa on us and had applied for the same two weeks back. The immigration told us that we did not have the permission to go out and said we need to get back," he added.

"I would not say that they were friendly to us at the airport, but they were not bad either. However, we have been told that we could stay two weeks and interestingly they have also told us that they are not sure if this would not happen again."


Image: Alex Halderman

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'I was just told that there was a problem'

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Reacting to airport incident, Gonggrijp said: "I was just told that there was a problem. Alex was told that he would be deported, but I was not told any such thing. I was told that there was some problem after they ran through my data."

"Unlike Alex I was not expecting this to happen to me. I was taken aback. However, it is over as of now and we have been told that we can be here two weeks. We have some work in India hope that all will be smooth. We are, however, not contemplating any legal action on this front since we have not been given the reasons for us being detained in the first place."

"I suppose it is the EVM issue, which has made the authorities react in this manner. Such harassment comes in the way of exposing a real problem, which we tried to do. Such things may continue to happen, but the fact is that the problem still exists and has not vanished."


Image: Rop Gonggrijp

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