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Gurgaon voter asserts secret ballot right,gets to cast Braille ballot

For 33-year-old Mamta Gulati,casting her vote this Lok Sabha election will be a different,empowering experience.

For 33-year-old Mamta Gulati,casting her vote this Lok Sabha election will be a different,empowering experience. She is the only voter in the 12.4-lakh strong Gurgaon Parliamentary constituency who sought — and got — a Braille ballot strip from the election authorities.

Employed at the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Rewari district,Mamta works as a steno-typist with the revenue division.

“Earlier,I used to cast my vote through an escort. But I always wanted to be independent,as secret ballot is my constitutional right,” says Mamta. “This election season,I came to know of such a provision. I filled in the necessary forms and applied for the Braille ballot option,” she says.

After her schooling,Mamta applied for a correspondence course in Delhi University and simultaneously took a course in stenography. “I learnt Braille at school but had to take a writer during my Boards as well as my graduation exams. It is unfortunate that there are such limited provisions for the disabled in this country,” Mamta says.

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“It is necessary for people like me to be aware of the available options,as well as the responsibility of the authorities concerned to make people raise awareness. There always is the possibility of misguidance when one has to take the help of an escort,” says Mamta.

C G Rajinikaanthan,District Commissioner,Rewari,appreciates her initiative and concern for people like her. But for Mohan Singh Ahluwalia,former Commissioner (Disabilities),Haryana,this one-off case simply stands to underline the general apathy of the Election Commission and other government authorities towards the rights of disabled people. “It is a shame if only a single visually challenged person in a constituency of more than 12 lakh voters has been granted the right to secret ballot,a constitutional right. The Election Commission and the government should have ensured the same opportunity for every visually challenged person,” he says. Ahluwalia resigned from his post a few years ago after a disagreement with the government on disabled person’s rights.

Election authorities,however,maintain that despite their best efforts,they could not get hold of the number of visually challenged persons who knew Braille.

First published on: 07-05-2009 at 00:58 IST
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