Indian Express

Mumbai’s ‘missing’ hundreds, unlisted and unable to vote

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Deepak Parekh, HDFC chairman, could not vote at Peddar Road. Deepak Parekh, HDFC chairman, could not vote at Peddar Road.

Hundreds of Mumbaikars failed to find their names on the electoral lists and by 1 pm, when the numbers rose, many of them complained to election officers that their right to vote had been infringed upon. Many, including some who wanted to vote for the first time, were seen shuttling between booths.

Election officers in most booths blamed the voters for not updating records with the Election Commission.

K B Laxman, 78, of Shyam Nagar, Jogeshwari, found his name wrongly spelt and his age incorrect. His family, who had been voting at booth number 181 in Jogeshwari from Northwest constituency for two decades, returned unable to vot because of the “spelling mistake”.

Sunita Shikre of Dharavi, whose family had been voting at Kala Killa, did not find their names on the list.

Angela Siyek in Bandra’s North Central constituency gave up after searching for his name for two hours in four polling stations. “I fail to understand why I can’t find my name when I have a voter ID card and have voted.”

Manoj Shah has been voting for every election since 1996 at polling station 72, Parsi Gymkhana at Marine Lines. Finding his name and those of five members of the family missing, he was directed to booth 187. Officials searched for Shah’s name, scanned the deleted list and the ASD (absentee, shifted and duplicate voters) list, and online list, but his name did not pop up.

Asif Syed, 43, at polling station 216, Cuffe Parade, found the names of five dead neighbours and people who had left the building a decade ago but not his. “There was a large crowd and people started to get aggressive. Police barricaded the area… Most people disbursed but we remained and tried to find answers, but junior officials were not of much help,” said Syed.

At polling station 187, the nodal booth for Colaba South, additional assistant returning officer Deepak Jadhav blamed people for their refusal to provide photographs or authentic proof of address. “Our officers visit a house three times, generally on weekends or during day time. If they are not home, officers enquire with neighbours. After three visits and consistent replies from neighbours about their absence, we slip notices under the door asking people to approach the Election Commission office within a week. After all this, we delete names,” he said.

More than 200 voters could not vote in Garodia in Ghatkopar East, according to a polling official. Fatema, along with her parents Quresh and Munnir Doctor, struggled to find their names at Bhendi Bazaar. “I was looking forward to cast my first vote,” Fatema said. The names of all other tenants in the building appeared. “We are the owners and people living in the building voted,” said Munnir, 47.

Maharashtra chief electoral officer Nitin Gadre said all voters had been told to sift through the deleted voters’ continued…

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