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Voter flies into Mumbai from Delhi, only to find her name missing

The 39-year-old came to the city last week to cast her vote from a booth in Santacruz yesterday, but couldn’t find her name on the voters’ list; officials provided no assistance to her queries

Like any good citizen, Supriya Jhunjhunwala travelled more than 1,000 kilometres from Delhi to the city, to vote. But the 39-year-old was to be disappointed, as her name was mysteriously missing from the voters’ list.

Supriya Jhunjhunwala had studied profiles of candidates in detail, but wasn’t allowed to vote
Supriya Jhunjhunwala had studied profiles of candidates in detail, but wasn’t allowed to vote

Jhunjhunwala, a consultant with a wildlife conservation agency in the Capital, fumed, “I woke up this morning with just one agenda; to go to the polling booth and choose a better future for India, even if it meant travelling all the way from Delhi.

When I arrived at the polling booth at Raheja College, on Relief Road Santacruz (West), where I have been voting for ages, it was disheartening to be turned back. I was sent up two floors to resolve this issue, only to be told after a half hour wait that they did not have any lists up there.”

No one to help
Jhunjhunwala walked a kilometre to three polling booths, manned by political parties, to make enquiries about her missing name. However, nobody helped her out.“I eventually went online to see if there was a portal that could help us. All portals of the Election Commission were hanging; some were even dead links.

We then called on a number we found through a commercial information dialling service and gave our details, but our voter ID details could not be located,” alleged Jhunjhunwala, who says she spent a substantial amount of time studying profiles of candidates for her constituency.

The woman, who shifted to Delhi a few months ago, had planned her trip so that she could finish off some personal work and also vote.

Names of thousands struck off from lists
Anandini Thakoor, chairperson of H/West Ward Federation, which covers Bandra, Khar and Santacruz, says at least 5,000 legitimate voters in her area were not allowed to exercise their right to vote because their names were deleted from the list.

Anandini Thakoor (in blue), chairperson of the H/West Ward Federation, alleged that nearly 5,000 voters’ names had been deleted
Anandini Thakoor (in blue), chairperson of the H/West Ward Federation, alleged that nearly 5,000 voters’ names had been deleted

“We have collected the data from the helpline number we floated,” informed Thakoor. Based on the facts given, the association has registered a written complaint to the Santacruz police. “If the errors are not rectified, we shall demand a re-poll soon,” added Thakoor.

When Thakoor demanded to know why the names were deleted, an election official told her that when officials went to the homes of voters to verify their details, many a time the security guards at the gate didn’t allow them to enter, or that the voters weren’t at home. The official gave this as one of the possible reasons why the names have been deleted.

 

Not alone
Two other members from her building, Nutan Priyadarshani in Santacruz, which is currently being redeveloped, had to face the same problem.

Pramila Mohnot also found her name deleted from the list
Pramila Mohnot also found her name deleted from the list

Surendra and Pramila Mohnot, too, couldn’t vote. “We have had our voter IDs since 1994. We were very angry when we were refused our right to cast our vote, since our names weren’t on the list,” said Surendra Mohnot.

According to Surendra, the EC had advertised that if a voter’s name didn’t figure in the lists by January 31 or March 26, 2014, then the master list of 2009 was to be checked. “No one had that list and we were left helpless, running from one poll centre to another in the hot sun,” added Surendra.

Rajeev Varde, a party worker in charge of a booth in Santacruz, stated that he, too, had received several such complaints. “First time voters aren’t facing the problem. The old timers are missing from the list,” he said.

Senior citizens forced to tread till the polling booth
Authorities may claim that every arrangement has been made to ensure that senior citizens don’t face any problems while voting. But when mid-day visited a polling booth in Bandra, the reality was completely different.

At St Stanislaus High School, Bandra, a polling booth for North West constituency, one could see no ramps for physically challenged, and senior citizens were expected to walk all the way inside the school as cops refused to allow vehicles inside the premises.

Even though the polling booth was located at the ground floor, senior voters found it challenging to reach the place, as they were not allowed to bring their vehicles inside. Those coming by auto rickshaws were also asked to get down outside the school, as the auto was the symbol chosen by an independent candidate.

Fizaa Lokandwala
Fizaa Lokandwala
Fizaa Lokandwala (78), had come to vote with her 80-year-old husband Taiyyab

I was happy with the arrangements, but if the law permits it, they should allow senior citizens some extra facilities to make the process easier


Annabelle D’souza, (78), had come with her son and daughter-in-law in a rickshaw

I can’t walk properly and would have appreciated if the authorities would have allowed me to take the auto inside. It was also challenging to climb up the two stairs. They should have provided a ramp.

Anushakti Nagar


Uttam Fulpagar, voted in 2012 BMC elections

I had voted in the last corporation elections and I haven’t been told the reason why my name has been deleted. A former staff of BARC, Bhagwan Kamble, who I worked with, died eight years back but his name is still there in the list.

Sarita Karjavkar, resident of Anushakti nagar, voted in 2012 BMC elections
My name has disappeared from the list even though it was there in 2012 and I had voted in the BMC election held that year.

Bajrang Pinngale, voted in 2012 BMC polls
How is it possible that names of those who are alive have suddenly disappeared from the list but the deceased persons’ names are still there?

Officialspeak
Election officer N Jare of H/West ward said he wasn’t aware of any police complaint. “The rule is simple. Only those who have their names in our list are allowed to vote. Others are not.”

As told to Sujit Mahamulkar and Ranjeet Jadhav

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