No, this video is not 'breaking news' revealing electoral fraud by India’s ruling party

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on April 10, 2019 at 09:30
  • 4 min read
  • By AFP India
A video that appears to show electronic voting machines being transported has been viewed thousands of times alongside claims it is "breaking news" revealing that India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is conspiring with election authorities to tamper with the country's upcoming ballot. The claim is false; the footage has circulated online since 2018; it shows an incident over voting machines used in a Madhya Pradesh state election.

Indian elections are set to take place between April 11 and May 19. Here is an AFP story about the upcoming polls.

Multiple Facebook posts, for example this one published March 27, 2019, contain a 2 minute 43 second video that has been viewed more than 2,000 times.

The footage shows a school bus packed with blue boxes next to a pick-up truck carrying large metallic containers. Other vehicles can be seen as well as a crowd of men talking to each other and filming the scene on their phones.

The post's caption says: "Breaking News… The conspiracy of Modi, Shah and the Election Commission is revealed. They were caught while storing several EVM machines in strong rooms from an unnumbered school bus and three Bolero jeeps in Bina town in Madhya Pradesh.

"No responsible authority is able to give a clear answer, this is why Shah and Modi are so confident about forming the government.. Share this video to the maximum so people would know the reality of Modi and the democracy is saved."

The post is referring to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, and the Election Commission of India. EVM stands for electronic voting machine.

Below is a screenshot of one of the misleading posts:

Screenshot of one of the misleading Facebook posts

The people in the video can be heard complaining on camera about the carelessness of the Election Commission in handling the voting machines.

One of them says: "None of these vehicles have registration plates, we are being fooled and this is the murder of democracy and constitution."

The video has been shared repeatedly online with the same claim, for example here on Facebook, here on Twitter and here on YouTube.

A Google reverse image search using keyframes from the misleading footage found it actually showed a November 2018 incident over the storage of electronic voting machines in the city of Khurai in Madhya Pradesh state, around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Bina.

The exact same footage as appears in the misleading post was uploaded to YouTube here on December 2, 2018. The footage starts from 00:46. 

The video's caption says: "Hundreds of EVM & VVPAT machines detected in School Bus. EVM-Scam. Election Commission Scam". 

On November 30, 2018, India's opposition Congress Party tweeted images here which correspond to the misleading video.

The tweet contains four photos – two of a school bus and two of blue boxes – that match the misleading video.

When translated, the Hindi-language tweet says: "Forty-eight hours after voting in Madhya Pradesh, an attempt was made to transfer EVMs in strong room in a car without a registration number.

"Is this a ploy to let BJP win by changing the EVMs? There should be a strict enquiry against collector and election commission officers and democracy should be saved."

The tweet is embedded below:

The Election Commission of Madhya Pradesh responded to the Congress allegations in this November 30 tweet which says that the photos show voting machines that were back-ups not used in the state elections.

The tweet says: "These are EVMs kept as 'Reserve' stationed at some Police stations, to be used as replacement for malfunctioning machines during Poll.

"Such machines were to be stored separately from polled EVMs. Strong room having Polled EVMs was neither opened nor was supposed to be opened."

Election Commission of India spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan also replied to these tweets here saying:

"Chief Electoral Office again reaffirms that all EVMs are tamperproof. All EVMs are safely secured and sealed in strong rooms. More importantly they are under joint surveillance of police force and political parties."

The issue was reported on here by major Indian broadcaster NDTV, here by The Hindu and here by the Hindustan Times.

Below is the English-language NDTV broadcast, dated December 1, 2018:

The NDTV report contains images that also match the footage in the misleading Facebook post, as illustrated in the collage below:

Image comparing screenshots from misleading Facebook post (L) with screenshots from NDTV report (R)

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