New Delhi: Two researchers - Alex Halderman and Rop Gonggrijp - who had carried out a study demonstrating the flaws in India’s electronic voting machines (EVMs), were denied entry into the country, despite holding valid visas, when they arrived at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Sunday night.
However, both put their foot down and demanded to know the reason why they were being asked to go back from the airport; after hours of confusion the Union Home Ministry lifted the restriction on their entry Monday afternoon, a newspaper report claimed Tuesday.
Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, and Rop Gonggrijp, a Dutch activist and technical expert, had co-authored a study — Security Analysis of India’s Voting Machines — with Hyderabad-based researcher Hari Prasad in July this year, demonstrating two different ways of “manipulating” the EVMs.
While the foreign nationals headed back home, Prasad was arrested for stealing a voting machine and was subjected to police interrogation for weeks.
The study had created uproar on the reliability of the machines which were dubbed as tamper-proof. And as a result, the Election Commission of India did initiate a number of steps to enhance their security features.
As per their original plan, Halderman and Gonggrijp has applied for conference visas to take part in an event at the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology, but were denied the same.
“Since we had bought airline tickets, we thought we would travel anyway and see our friends here,” Halderman was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
A senior Ministry of Home Affairs official has been quoted as saying that the duo was initially denied entry because of violations of visa terms they had committed during their previous visit to India. “They had come earlier on a tourist visa, but were involved in activities that could not be considered tourism,” he said.
The Home Ministry had asked the missions in their respective countries to not issue them visas in the future, but they were issued visas again inadvertently and since they were issued visas, the ministry decided “to let them in”.