No links with Congress, says London journalist who organised EVM-hacking event

EVM VVPAT

New Delhi, Feb 14 (IANS) International Journalists’ Association (IJA) President Ashish Ray on Thursday said he has never been part of the Congress and that he was only performing his duty as a journalist when he organised the controversial press conference involving an Indian techie who claimed that EVMs used in the elections here were hackable.

Ray was the man responsible for giving platform to Syed Ahmed Shuja, a Hyderabad man claiming to be part of the team which built the EVM for the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL).

Shuja was granted asylum in the United States in March 2018, Ray said.

The conference, which took place on January 21 this year in London, was billed as an event where Shuja — all his claims, Ray said — will hack an EVM live in front of journalists.

However, he missed the conference and instead addressed it through Skype with a bandage on his head, claiming he was attacked a few days before the conference, Ray said. One of the claims made by Shuja was that EVMs were hacked in the 2014 general election to the benefit of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The event, since having snowballed into a controversy involving the Election Commission of India, forced Ray to come to India, where he said he had never been part of the Congress nor was the conference organised at its behest.

“Let me clarify, I have never spoken about it. My grandfather Sarat Bose was a member of Congress. He was a senior Cabinet Minister in the interim government in 1946. His younger brother Subhas Chandra Bose was twice elected President of the Congress. I have never been a part of Congress,” Ray told reporters in the capital.

A day after the London event, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad had alleged that it was organised at the behest of Congress and that Ray had connection with the party. Prasad also said Ray “praises Rahul Gandhi in columns in National Herald”.

On senior Congress leader Kapil sibal’s presence at the London EVM conference, Ray said he had sent the invitation to presidents of six political parties — Congress, BJP, NCP, BSP, CPI and CPI-Marxist, but didn’t hear from any of them except from Aam Aadmi Party, which “made the complaint why they were not invited”.

“Kapil Sibal was in London on some other work. He was perfectly fine in attending it since the invitation was sent to his party,” he said.

Ray also demanded the United States government to come up with asylum-granting documents related to Shuja, which he said will clear a lot of air about the mysterious man.

“It’s not easy for a man from India to be granted asylum in the US… unlike those from communist countries,” he said.

Ray said he was in touch with Shuja for three months and did due diligence before deciding to grant him the platform in his capacity of an organiser only.

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