Mumbai: Police find relative of Shiv Sena MP who won by 48 votes used phone connected to EVM

Mangesh Pandilkar, a relative of Ravindra Waikar, Shiv Sena’s elected MP who narrowly won the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha seat by 48 votes, was found using a phone connected to the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), according to Vanrai Police in Maharashtra.

The police said that this phone was used to generate the OTP required to unlock the EVM, and it was operated within the NESCO Centre on the day of vote counting, Mid-Day reported.

A CRPC 41A notice has been issued to the accused Mangesh Pandilkar and Dinesh Gurav, an ENCORE (poll portal) operator with the Election Commission.

The mobile phone has been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for data extraction and fingerprint analysis.

“We have sent the mobile phone to forensics that will be looking into the call records. We are also checking if the mobile phone was used for any other reasons. We have recorded the statement of the other candidates and a notice has been sent to the accused Mangesh Pandilkar and Dinesh Gurav. They will have to come to the police station for the investigation. They seem to be cooperating with us for now if this stops, we will issue an arrest warrant,” Mid-Day quotes senior inspector Rampiyare Rajbhar of Vanrai police station as saying.

Police officials stated that the incident happened on the day of vote counting at the NESCO Centre for the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency.

An FIR was filed on June 14 by an Election Commission officer at the Vanrai police station following complaints from candidates contesting against Waikar, including Arora and Bharat Shah.

The event took place inside the NESCO Centre on counting day, with Ravindra Waikar and candidate Amol Kirtikar present.

The investigation also revealed that the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) for Service Voters, used after the EVM machines, was unlocked using the same phone and OTP by Gurav. During the EVM vote counting, Amol Kirtikar was leading, but after counting the votes from the ETPBS, Kirtikar fell behind, resulting in Waikar’s victory.

Reacting to the Mid-Day news, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi wrote on X: “EVMs in India are a ‘black box,’ and nobody is allowed to scrutinize them. Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process. Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability.”