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EC officials beef up security fearing missing voters' backlash

Following the row over missing voters in Pune, where voters staged a dharna outside the collector’s office, authorities step up security at EC’s city office, fearing voter anger

Fearing a repeat of the chaos that occurred in Pune after several voters couldn’t find their names in the electoral rolls, the state election commission is taking no chances in the city.

Citizens agitate outside the collector’s office in Pune, after voting concluded there on April 17. They were protesting against the deletion of their names from the electoral roll. Pic/Mohan Patil
Citizens agitate outside the collector’s office in Pune, after voting concluded there on April 17. They were protesting against the deletion of their names from the electoral roll. Pic/Mohan Patil

Around seven policemen have been assigned to secure the chief election officer’s (CEO) office, which is located on the sixth floor at the Mantralaya, a move never witnessed in the past. State EC officials fear a possible backlash from city residents, as they have deleted 12.56 lakh voter names during the electoral roll clean up.

The CEO’s office that closely monitors the election process is anticipating angry reactions from the people residing in the city and Thane, which goes to the polls today. Last Thursday, there was anger at the booths when many voters in Pune found that their names had been deleted from the electoral roll when they went to the polling booths.

“The EC is still grappling with the fallout in Pune,” said an EC official, on condition of anonymity, adding, “But, on our part enough precautions were taken to ensure names of residents are not struck off.” Principal secretary and state CEO Nitin Gadre said the drive to clean up the electoral rolls was stopped almost six months ago.

Advertisements appealing to people to verify their names and addresses on the electoral rolls were published in almost all major dailies. A period of one month was given to voters to visit help centres located in each assembly segment and verify details or submit their applications afresh.

The drive, say officials, was conducted at the behest of the Election Commission of India to clean the electoral rolls. It was observed that there were a number of duplications or names of deceased people existing on the rolls.

“Even after conducting a massive drive across the state, the voters list said there are 8.5 lakh names whereas the census data of 2011 says there should be 8 crore people above 18 years of age,” Gadre said.

“When BJP leader Kirit Somaiyya, a candidate vying for the Mumbai North East seat, lodged a complaint with the EC about the exercise, a team was specially deputed from the Delhi headquarters to verify it. The random checks and visits by the team had yielded a positive response,” said Gadre.

6.55 lakh
Voters names deleted from Thane

3.32 lakh
Names deleted from Mumbai city

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