MCD election 2017: Aas Mohammed battles odds to cast his vote
A resident of Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, which recorded the second-lowest voter turnout in Delhi, the young man was one among the few who chose to vote. Born without arms, Mohammed came to the polling station, accompanied by his wife, requesting officials to let his wife press the EVM button for him.delhi Updated: May 01, 2017 19:29 IST
If you are one among the over 60 lakh Delhi residents, who did not bother to vote on Sunday, you must hear 28-year-old Aas Mohammed’s story. Almost 46% out of the 1.32 lakh voters did not vote in the civic elections.
A resident of Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, which recorded the second-lowest voter turnout in Delhi, the young man was one among the few who chose to vote. Mohammed came to the polling station, accompanied by his wife, requesting officials to let his wife press the EVM button for him.
In 2007, Mohammed’s arms were amputated because of electrocution.
At around 1 pm on a hot Sunday afternoon, when this correspondent first met Aas Mohammed, he was running from one booth to the other because the man did not know his booth.
Mohammed must have visited at least five different classrooms in a government school – turned into booths on Sunday – determined to find his booth and vote. Accompanied by his wife Irfana, carrying his voter identity card, Mohammed stood for around 15 minutes in a queue outside one booth only to be told that he had come to the wrong one. As we clicked his photographs, the man asked us to help him find his booth and said he did not mind being photographed.
“Locals guided me to the wrong booth. Just because I don’t have arms does not mean I won’t vote. This is my right. I believe in democracy and am lucky to be living in one,” he said.
Mohammed said that during the last assembly elections, officials were left confused where to apply the ink on him. The ink is usually applied on the fingers. “After discussion and asking their seniors, the polling agent applied the ink on my right shoulder,” he said.
After 10-15 minutes of walking around classrooms inside the government school, we finally found his booth — number 42. As we waited outside booth 42, there was a small queue of voters outside, who allowed Mohammed, his wife and us to jump the queue and enter the booth. A government officer was reportedly surprised on seeing Mohammed, who had come to vote. Who would press the EVM button? Only one person is allowed near the EVM. Where would they use the ink?
The senior-most official at the booth asked someone on the phone for instructions and then took out a form from inside his drawer. Mohammed had to sign or use his thumbprint on the form. It was again a problem. His wife Irfana signed the form for him. The formalities were complete. Irfana cast her vote. Mohammed was not allowed to see his wife vote. A minute later, an official applied the ink on Mohammed’s left shoulder. Irfana waited for her husband at the polling booth. They voted together.