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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

In home away from home, they can finally vote

Halim Mondal, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, July 22, 2013
First Published: 12:11 IST(22/7/2013) | Last Updated: 12:53 IST(22/7/2013)

Forced to break away from their roots in the face of rampant erosion and move houses before finally settling down in Nadia, about 2,000 locals at a little known hamlet in the Charjatrasiddhi area are to vote for the first time since 1978 during the fourth phase of polling on Monday.

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The locals residing in humble hutments along the Ganges in the Kanchrapara gram panchayat area of Nadia’s Chakdaha block, will head to the nearest polling booth in the hope that it will spell an end to their troubled living.

Formerly based along the banks of the Ganga in the Magra-Chandrahati area of Hooghly, the locals had been consigned to moving places in the wake of rampant erosion and flooding from the river.

As the river gradually changed course from the effects of erosion, the portion of the bank on which stand their hutments veered from Hooghly into the Charjatrasiddhi area of Nadia. They have since come to be held locally as residents of Nadia.

While it has been over two decades since they came to be in Charjatrasiddhi area, their ration cards along with other important documents testifying to their bonafides had been issued in Hooghly.

Hence, with the documents of little use to the min Nadia, they have neither been able to avail the benefits of public distribution and nor have they been able to vote for the last 28 years.

After nearly three decades of being denied the right of enfranchisement over a raging confusion as to whether their hamlet was to be held as part of Nadia or Hooghly, they finally got their voting rights restored in 2009.

Onkar Singh Meena, then district magistrate of Nadia, had been the key driver of getting their voting rights back. Talking to this correspondent over phone, Meena said, “I very happy to know that the locals of Charjatrasiddhi village have now been deemed eligible to vote.”

Saibal Chakraborty, the subdivisional officer of Kalyani, said, “With the number of voters in the village below 1,200, we will have a separate polling booth arranged for them.”

Balaram Chowdhury, a resident of the village, said, “Only about 1,200 names have been included in the voters’ list. Just to cite some glaring anomalies, there are cases of a father not deemed eligible to vote, while his son’s name features in the election rolls. In most of such cases, the ration cards issued in Hooghly are to blame.”


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