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SPECIAL REPORT: Hundreds of Muslims barred from voting as names deleted from electoral rolls

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By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: Though much-hyped Gujarat election has been over on December 17, 2012 with heavy turnout but late reports which are pouring tells the wooes of Muslim voters in many areas of Ahmedabad, and Godhra and Baroda as Hundred of Muslims voters could not vote despite having their voter cards as their name are not in electroal rolls.

"I don’t have money, property, assets, job or even peace – I only have my voting right. But even that has been taken away by the government. They have not included my name in the voting list, but my Khwaja Garib Navaz is with Congress and I know it will win.” These are the words of Memunabanu Saiyed, a voter from Jikar Hasam ni Chali in Naroda-Patia area, which falls in the Thakkarnagar constituency. She is among the scores of residents whose names were missing from the electoral list on Monday.

According to residents, over 40% of voters in the area faced a similar situation. The residents openly accuse chief minister Narendra Modi, ruling BJP and the Election Commission of removing their names from the list so that they do not cast their votes in favour of the Congress.

Most Muslims in the area were seen crying and screaming when they found their names missing from the voters’ list. Many women cursed the government for depriving them of their right to vote. The frustration was writ large on Saiyed’s face. “After this, don’t blame Muslims for being involved in criminal activities,” she warned. “What will Muslims do if even their most fundamental right is snatched by the government,” Saiyed asked.

According to Mohammad Safiq, a community leader, this is the only locality in the entire area where so many names are missing from the electoral list. “All the electors have been living here for last 50 years or ever since they were born. No one has migrated from here, then how can their names go missing,” he said, adding that it is not possible without active political intervention.

Missing names was not the only issue here. Many cards carried incorrect names, wrong photographs or serial numbers that did not match with the voters’ list.

Most of the residents of Naroda Patia were busy searching for their names in the list throughout the day.

These voters, largely from Juhapura that falls under Vejalpur constituency, and from other parts of the city, say they have voted last time and displayed their voter identity cards. They are perplexed as to how a large chunk of voters have been missing from the voters’ list even though they have not changed residence.

Ismail Chopda (left) and others of Akbar Towers in Juhapura with their ID cardsResidents of Akbar Tower, Meenal Society, Mecca Nagar, Nal Sarovar, Heaven Park, Royal Nawab Avenue, Royal Avenue, Sankalit Nagar, Rahil Apartment, Chhaprawala Society, Unit apartment, Gyaspur Bhada and other areas tha fall under Juhapura have complained of their names missing from the list.

In some cases, members of a family, and in other cases, names of entire families were found missing. Mohammad Tarif who lives in E ward (Juhapura) said, “In our locality, names of many people did not figure in the voting list. When we went to vote, we were told that our names were not there. So we could not vote. We tried to call up the Collector’s office repeatedly, but failed to get through.”

Social worker Noor Jahan Diwan from Juhapura alleged, “A huge number of people from Juhapura and Vejalpur could not vote as their names were missing from the list. Most of these missing voters had voted in the last elections. What is worse is that none of the authorities were ready to listen.”

Around 70 people of Shreejee Bungalows on Science City road who could not cast their vote strongly proteted.

The Juhapura residents had also organised a protest rally at Ektanagar. One of the protestors, Habib Madan, 56, said, “When the election list was being prepared, the teachers and Booth Level Officer (BLOs) were told to go to different areas and prepare the list. However, due to their carelessness many names have not been added to the list. Action must be taken against these persons.”

According to the collector’s office, district election officers had carried out revision of electoral rolls between January and November this year, by visiting houses thrice to update the list. Alternative arrangements were also made for those who missed out on the registrations by setting up registration centres in every constituency.

There was also a provision to send SMS or get oneself registered online. In Bapunagar area, members of the Patni community could not exercise their franchise as their names were missing from the list. They had their ID cards, but were not allowed to vote as their names were missing.

Suresh Patel, wife’s names were not there in list. Ramanbhai Patni, 38, resident of Chandulal ni Chal said, “We had election cards but our names were missing from the voters’ list. So we were disallowed from voting. Around 100 voters from seven chawls – Navak Sabani Chal, Kanji Jalu ni Chal. Chandulal ni Chal, Magistrate ni Chal, Naval Seth ni Chal, could not cast their vote due to this problem.”

In Dariapur, Sayyed Ismail Noor Ahmed and his family were disappointed when they got up early and went to vote. Noor Ahmed said, “I, along with my wife Saeeda, sister-in-law Zahida, and others went to the booth with our voting cards, but could not vote as our names were not in the list.”

Abdul Rehman Mirza’s family too had to return without casting their vote as they faced the same problem. Even families living in the area of Gujarat Pradesh Congress President Arjun Modhwadia found their names missing from the voters’ list. Mallika Wadhwani and Anand Wadhwani who live at Sterling Park could not vote.

Mallika said, “In the last elections, we had voted at a polling booth in Maharaj Agrasen School. However, when we went to vote this time, we were told that our names were missing, so technically we could not vote. Senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia too lives in the same society as ours, so we tried to sort out the problem with election officials present there. But were told to contact collectorate officials as they were helpless. We have been living here for the past 30 years, paying all our taxes, so why should such a predicament be meted out to us.”

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]
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1 comments:

  1. Dear Mr. Abdul lakhani,


    first of all i would like to appreciate your concerned and great effort to draw this serious issued regarding the voting issued and try to create awareness among Indian Muslim community , if you see generally in our community our leader are also very lethargic and lazy to fight and make awareness among their own area , we have to make one committees of those who really concerned to help our community to grow in all aspect, its is not time to cry and begging for each and every right we have to fight and get the right. i am ready to do that and i will do all my possible way to help out our people to over come this issued. because i am also staying in juhapura and struggling to issued my election card but their was no proper information regarding the facility and no government concerned of our community. this is the right time has come to forward and take the responsibility of our own !


    Regards N Thanks


    Ashfaque Khan


    8758403290

    ReplyDelete