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The Congress today (Thursday, April 18) criticised Election Commission of India (EC) and attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the suspension of a poll observer, a Karnataka-cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, in Odisha for checking PM’s helicopter in Sambalpur..

“An official was suspended by ECI for doing his job of inspecting vehicles. The rule cited governs the use of official vehicles for campaigning. It does not exempt PM’s vehicle from being searched. What is Modi carrying in the helicopter that he doesn’t want India to see?” the Congress tweeted on a day 95 seats are voting in 12 states and one UT in phase two of Lok Sabha elections.

The EC yesterday suspended an officer, posted as a general observer in Odisha, for allegedly checking PM Modi’s helicopter in Sambalpur in violation of norms.

Mohammed Mohsin, a 1996-batch Karnataka cadre IAS officer, did not act in conformity with the EC’s instructions concerning Special Protection Group (SPG) protectees, according to an order issued by the commission.

The action against the officer came a day after the PM’s visit to Sambalpur.

The ECI order said that Mohsin had not acted in conformity with the ECI’s instructions dated April 10, 2014 and March 22, 2019 concerning those guarded by the Special Protection Group (SPG), reported The Hindustan Times (HT). The ECI did not go into the details of the action or what the guidelines for SPG protectees are.

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The order also said the Sambalpur district collector, who is also the district election officer, and the deputy inspector general of police had also sent a written report confirming that Mohsin’s actions had been contrary to the instructions of the EC and qualified as “dereliction of duty” reported HT.

The PM was stated to have been held up at the place for around 15 minutes because of the sudden checking, an official said.

“Checking of the prime minister’s chopper, undertaken at Sambalpur, was not in accordance with the EC guidelines as SPG protectees are exempt from such checking,” said the official without elaborating.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s helicopter was also checked by EC flying squad personnel in Rourkela on Tuesday.

A similar check was carried out on Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s chopper in Sambalpur on Tuesday by the flying squad, said reports.

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On Tuesday, the Congress had alleged that a “mysterious box” was removed from PM Modi’s helicopter and taken to a car in Karnataka’s Chitradurga. Demanding an EC probe, the Congress asked the poll panel to “exercise its constitutional powers under Article 324 of the Constitution of India”.

Poll official suspended for checking PM Modi’s chopper, Congress raises questionsThe opposition party also mentioned the incident of April 9, when cash worth crores was seized at Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh. “It would not be entirely out of place to assume that the black box which has been transported in a hurried and clandestine manner could be part of the same modus operandi to carry large sums of cash. While this is a hypothesis it is, as stated above, supported by a recent incident in Pasighat,” the Congress complaint said.

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Apart from this, the Congress has also raised four other issues including that of the PM’s photograph being used on railway tickets, that no action had been taken against the PM and the BJP chief for their speeches with religious overtones in Nanded and Latur on April 12.

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