Pune EVM Burglary: Thieves Believe Tehsil Office to Be an Old Wada, Mistake EVM for Briefcase; Arrests Made

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Pune/Saswad, 8th February 2024: The investigation into the theft of an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) from the Saswad tehsil office in Pune rural has unveiled a bizarre twist. Three suspects mistakenly entered the office, thinking it was an old wada (traditional mansion), and unwittingly took the EVM, mistaking it for a briefcase, along with some stationery, according to officials involved in the investigation.

Superintendent of Police (Pune Rural) Pankaj Deshmukh revealed, “There were 40 EVMs kept in the strong room. The stolen one was used by tehsil officials for demonstration purposes as part of the voters’ awareness campaign, making it easily accessible in the room.”

Early Wednesday morning, Pune rural police successfully tracked and arrested two of the suspects—Shivaji Ramdas Bandgar alias Bhaiyya (21) and Ajinkya Raju Salunke (21). They recovered the stolen EVM in pristine condition from a shed on Bhaiyya’s farm in Malshiras village near Yavat. The two suspects were presented before a Saswad court, which ordered their custodial remand until January 12.

The third suspect’s identity has been established, and efforts are underway to locate him. The theft occurred during the night between Sunday and Monday.

“Bandgar has a criminal record with past cases involving attempted murder, molestation, and rioting. Salunke does not have any criminal antecedents,” Deshmukh stated.

The trio traveled approximately 30 km from Malshiras village to the Saswad tehsil office on a motorcycle, randomly selecting the tehsil office for their burglary. Besides the demo EVM, they also made off with stationery valued at Rs 1,500.

Deshmukh informed, “CCTV cameras at the tehsil office captured the trio’s activities. Our team meticulously analyzed the footage and examined recordings from various establishments in Saswad town and the surrounding roads. Through a reverse tracking exercise, our team traced the trio riding towards Yavat and eventually pinpointed them in Malshiras village.”

“In their preliminary statement, the duo admitted entering the tehsil office under the assumption that it was an old wada, anticipating valuables to steal. Mistaking the EVM for a briefcase, they took it without realizing its significance and stored it in the shed,” added the SP.