First-time voters angry with wrong ID cards

First-time voters angry with wrong ID cards

The residents of Mashaldanga, Poaturkuthi and Dahla Khagrabari are gearing up to cast their votes for the first time in almost seven decades.

Yet, festivities have run into some discontent with a large number of voters’ cards, issued by the government, carrying erroneous information. If the address is incorrect in some, in others names have been mixed up, leading to confusion.

Take Manowara Bibi, for example. While she has been rightly named in the card, the names of her husband and father have been mixed up, placing the name of her husband Mansoor Ali in place of her father and vice-versa. In some cases, the son has been named as the husband and father-in-law as the father.

While such mistakes are common even in urban areas, at the largely conservative societal structure in rural Bengal, such mistakes are giving rise to significant disgruntlement and even anger.

“How can the government do this? Officials visited each and every household and took down names of residents, who are eligible as voters. Even after that how can they name the son as the husband or the husband as the father?” asked a rather displeased Sobhan Ali.

He pointed out that in his case, his father Jamal Miyan has been named as Jamal Sheikh, a glaring mistake. Abdul Khaled Miyan, another recipient of such an erroneous card, admitted that receiving the voters’ card was a moment of pride but the mistakes have come across as a major mood dampener. “Now we’re concerned whether we’ll be able to vote,” he said.

“Three government officials came to our house, sat on our yard, spoke to us for almost 30 minutes to clarify all the details. Yet, when we received the cards, these are full of mistakes; names have been mixed up and even the address is wrong,” Javed Ali complained. The scene is no different at the rehabilitation camps near Dinhata town, where residents of former Indian enclaves in Bangladesh have been housed.

Umar Farooq, a young resident of the camp, said, “How can the government make such mistakes? We clearly mentioned our names in the forms given to us. They even clarified if handwritings were illegible in some cases,” he said.

The frustrations and discontent notwithstanding, the Election Commission is gearing up to ensure that all eligible voters from the former enclaves can exercise their right at 38 polling booths across five seats of Dinhata, Mathabhanga, Mekhligunj, Sitalkuchi and Sitai.

In order to welcome these first-time voters, the EC has planned to literally roll out the red carpet, said additional district magistrate and deputy magistrate Ayesha Rani of Cooch Behar.

“In the run-up to the polls, we set up three dummy booths, equipped with EVMs so that these first-time voters can get acquainted with the machine and other electoral processes,” she said.

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