CHITWAN, June 1: The ballot papers which were sealed four days ago following the incident of tearing up ballot papers in Bharatpur Metropolitan City (BMC)-19 have been opened on Thursday.
A team of 46 individuals entered the counting center at the Covered Hall of BMC.
The sealed ballot papers were opened in the presence of booth representatives, Chief District Officer (CDO) Narayan Prasad Bhatta, Chitwan District Police Chief Dipak Thapa, and Chief Returning Officer Kabi Prasad Neupane.
The torn ballot papers and those to be counted have been kept at the Covered Hall.
The investigation team will take stock of the torn ballot papers.
The representatives of the CPN (Maoist Center) had torn off the ballot papers while the vote counting was underway last Sunday night.
The investigation was launched after halting the vote counting.
On Sunday, Election Commission had formed a three-member probe panel comprising Joint Attorney General Gita Prasad Timsina, Joint Secretary of the Minister of Home Affairs Mahesh Acharya and Additional Inspector General of Police Kedar Man Singh Bhandari to look into the incident.
Drawing a conclusion that the Maoist Center booth representative tore ballot papers at the counting center, the panel had submitted a report to the EC on Wednesday.
The 46-member investigation team entered the counting center after the EC ordered Chitwan Chief Returning Officer Kabi Prasad Neupane to prepare details of the torn ballot papers.
The ballot papers were torn while the neck-to-neck competition between Maoist Center candidate Renu Dahal and CPN-UML mayoral candidate Devi Prasad Gyawali was going on. Police have taken booth representatives Madhu Neupane and Drona Babu Shivakoti into custody.
Chief Returning Officer Neupane told media persons that the incident took place while he was in the toilet.
Chitwan District Police Chief Dipak Thapa who was in the incident site informed that 4 to 5 ballot papers were torn.
Of the total 29 wards, the vote counting is over in 27 wards. It was speculated there were a lot of votes for Renu in ward No. 19. The ballot papers were torn after 1,800 ballot papers were counted.
As many as 2,860 votes were cast in Ward No. 19. According to the latest vote updates, Gyawali was taking lead with 733 votes.
By the time the ballot papers were torn, Gyawali had secured 41, 641 votes while rival Dahal was trailing with 40, 908 votes.
The Maoist Center has been demanding re-polling in Ward No. 19 after the incident. On the other hand, UML has been saying that the incident was intentionally orchestrated after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s daughter’s defeat was likely. UML has been disrupting the House meeting due to the same reason.