BMC Election: Andheri residents storm poll office over missing names

Old-timers fume at being left out, demand that election in ward 63 be declared null and void

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Disgruntled citizens of K-West at the returning officer's office in Andheri Sports Complex yesterday
Disgruntled citizens of K-West at the returning officer's office in Andheri Sports Complex yesterday

The anger was palpable and building. Over 50 residents of K-West ward stormed the office of the returning officer (RO) at Andheri Sports Complex around 11.30 yesterday after finding out that their names were missing from the voters' lists.

As the mob bore down on RO Rajendra Ahiwar, police personnel on election duty had to be summoned to disperse it. The citizens, in the age group of 35-55, sought an explanation for why their names had gone missing despite having voted in the past. They wrote a letter to the RO, asking him to treat the election in ward 63 as null and void on the grounds that the names of a majority of the citizens had been left out of the voters' lists.

'3,000 names missing'
While there is no official count of the missing names yet, Shashi Kumar Kalloor (63), a resident of Sundar Park in Jeevan Nagar, Andheri West, claimed that in his area alone, around 3,000 residents could not find their names on voters' lists. He said the affected voters were from Panchsheel Apartments, Gitanjali, Shri Darshan and New Chandra in Jeevan Nagar, besides Sundar Park. "The RO asked us to write a letter to the EC, but that won't solve our problem. We want to cast our votes."

They gherao him in his office
They gherao him in his office

Other missing voters were from adjoining areas of Azad Nagar, Jogeshwari West, as well as pockets of Lokhandwala. "Even though I have a voter ID, my name is not on the list," said Vinod Khanna (66), a resident of Swastik building in Azad Nagar, who has been a regular voter for the past decade.

New voters safe
Citizens who had gathered at the RO's office said the problem was largely restricted to old-timers and that new voters faced no such hassle. "I have scanned over 1,285 pages of voters' lists and our names are nowhere to be found," said Suchitra Nayar (65). "The names of all new voters are there."

Also read: Where's my name? Prominent Mumbaikars can't vote since they are 'missing'

VK Varma (65), a diabetic patient, said he had queued up at 10 am at the RO's office, trying to get the issue resolved. "How can they (BMC) deny us our right to vote?"

RO speaks

"At this stage, we cannot say what is the exact number of voters missing from the lists," said returning officer Rajendra Ahiwar. "Some names might have been shifted to another ward. Only those whose names are on the voters' lists will be allowed to vote." On the residents' demand to declare the polling in ward 63 null and void, he said, "Only the EC can decide that."

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