February 29, 2012 3:47:50 am
For the last few days,the Shahjahanpur district administration has been trying to convince villagers of Katiya Kammu to let their women vote on March 3.
The villages Muslim women have not voted for an estimated three decades,the prime reason being that the villagers strictly follow a custom of purdah. There are no specifics as to how long exactly they have been skipping voting,but subdivisional magistrate Indra Mani Tripathi said they did not vote in the last panchayat,Assembly or Lok Sabha elections. This time,the administration has organised awareness programmes about voting rights with the help of NGOs.
Katiya Kammu village,with 1,256 voters,is part of Dadraul constituency in Shahjahanpur district. Among the voters are over 400 women,the majority of them Muslim.
Village pradhan Ilyas Khan said officials from the local administration were visiting the village,urging everyone to vote,but even he could not specify when the women stopped voting. That decision had been taken by village elders after an incident during a panchayat election.
Several years ago,during panchayat elections,in a move to check impersonation,women were asked to remove their veils and identify themselves. It was then decided that no woman would vote in future, he said.
Other villagers have other versions. One,for instance,is that women were barred from voting by the panchayat after some youths from a neighbouring village passed lewd remarks at them while they were going to the panchayat election booth.
Tripathi said their efforts seem to have worked so far.
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