IT HAS been nearly one-and-a-half years since their father, Mohammad Akhlaq, was beaten to death over allegations of cow slaughter at Bisara village in Dadri. But as Bisara gears up to vote on Saturday in the first phase of UP polls, Mohammad Danish (24) and his sister Shaista Saifi (22) would not be able to join the queue of voters. The reason: Their names do not figure in the voters’ list. The siblings said they did not know that their names were no longer on the voters’ list. Citing “change of residence”, Saifi’s name figures among voters who have been omitted from the electoral rolls.
“We still have voter ID cards from Bisara. But we have not got new cards made so far,” said Danish, who had suffered severe head injuries after a mob barged into their house and beat his father to death on the night of September 28, 2015. “I wanted to vote this time. Our family would have voted… we would have spoken to the administration about it, but Sartaj bhai (his brother) had to go out of town for work,” he added.
Officials of Gautam Buddha Nagar administration maintained this had happened due to routine updates made prior to elections. “If someone has not been residing at a given place for some time and moved elsewhere, or in the case of death, booth-level officers receive information and update the list accordingly. They have not been living in that address for over a year… local district officials would have received the information and updated the list,” said Gautam Buddha Nagar DM N P Singh.
On Friday evening, Saifi recalled the first time she voted. “It was for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. My father had explained the procedure. He told me to pay attention to the election symbol on the EVM and push the button next to the symbol I wanted to vote for. I wanted to vote this time but circumstances are such that we cannot.” Her idea of an ideal government? “Someone who looks at everyone equally,” she said.
Recalling a conversation he had with his father and brother a couple of years ago, Danish said: “The three of us were going somewhere. Papaji told us to always remember our fundamental rights. He said even if we oppose a police officer, a politician or any member who we think is more powerful than us, we should not be scared. We have the same rights as everyone else. He was poor, but he was not backward.”
For Danish, who has undergone a couple of surgeries — the most recent having taken place four months ago — the true test of a good government is how well it implements its promises.