Election officers and security guards in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit were shocked when they saw 34 newly installed CCTV cameras in and around a poll control room in Pilibhit damaged. Initially, authorities thought it was sabotage, possibly by workers belonging to a political party and the matter should be reported to the Election Commission.
The equipment was installed at the agriculture produce marketing committee (APMC) complex, where EVMs and VVPAT machines were kept. Authorities’ shock soon turned into disbelief when they realised after an initial probe that the equipment was damaged by a troop of monkeys.
Additional district magistrate RS Gautam told the Times of India, that they had installed 52 new cameras, costing Rs 2,500 each, at the complex where a strongroom holds EVMs and VVPAT machines. “At least 34 such cameras were found damaged by monkeys. Now the social forestry division has deployed three teams of nine members each to keep the simians at bay. Seven monkeys have been caught so far. Around 25 security personnel are also on guard round the clock. The EVMs & VVPATs are locked in a separate room and are safe,” he said.
We have replaced the damaged cameras, petroleum grease is being applied on the camera covers and the cords to deter monkeys from touching the gadgets, the ADM added.
Meanwhile, in-charge of the forest teams, Dev Rishi Saxena, said that each team is led by a deputy range officer, and there will be a forest inspector and a forest guard, along with six forest watchers to assist in trapping the monkeys. The authorities have trapped seven monkeys so far and these were later released in a forest. The drive will continue until the counting of votes on March 10 is over, he added.
Pilibhit district goes to polls in the fourth phase of UP elections on February 23.