MINA SATHE, a 68-year-old resident of Mahul, took an auto-rickshaw to her previous address in Vidyavihar on Monday morning to cast her vote, only to be turned away. The ride cost her Rs 240.
“The money could have been used to buy vegetables for a week. But I wanted to vote. It’s a way to keep ourselves relevant, to tell the government that we are alive. But, my name has been deleted from the list there. It’s not included at Mahul either,” Sathe said, gasping for breath as she climbed the stairs to her first-floor room in Mahul.
Sathe is one of thousands of residents who were rehabilitated in Mahul after their slums near the Tansa pipeline were demolished by the BMC. Like Sathe, several residents who have been rehabilitated in Mahul found their names missing from the voters’ list, in Mahul as well as at their addresses. Click here for more election news
Bilal Khan, of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, claimed that 1,593 people found their names missing. “Their names were deleted from the electoral list at a time when the protests (over rehabilitation) were at its peak. We had registered a protest with the collector at that time saying why should their names be rejected when their housing issue is pending before the court. This was a way of punishing them for protesting,” he said.
Vilas Thorat, a 48-year-old driver, took the day off to vote, giving up his daily earning of Rs 800. He took a bus to Vidyavihar, over 10 km away, only to return to Mahul dejected. Then he stood in queue outside a polling booth in Mahul, hoping his name would be there. An election official told him it wasn’t. “Did you fill the form? We had set up a camp a few months ago. If your name was rejected in Vidyavihar, it could have been included in Mahul if you had filled the form,” Thorat and others were told. Many said they were not informed about the procedure.
“Our homes were demolished two years ago and we were forced to live in Mahul. We are yet to receive any documents here. Why the haste to remove our names from the voters’ list?” Thorat said.
Sadhana Singh, another resident of Vidyavihar rehabilitated in Mahul, said there are 72 buildings in the rehabilitation colony in Mahul and many, like her, live far away from the main road. “How would we have known that new forms are to be filled? Did they put any notice anywhere?” Singh said.
An election official said that an attempt to add their names were met with a tepid response as many residents were protesting against the rehabilitation to Mahul.