House number 567 in Badal village has a whopping 289 voters. A villager has two fathers, while another has three votes. These are all “facts”, if the voter list for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections is to be believed.
A scrutiny of the electoral rolls reveals that three houses in Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s native village have 20 to 30 voters, many with suspiciously similar names. A total of 1,720 voters have enrolled themselves from the village for the September 18 polls. Some of them are neither Sikhs nor village residents. Even migrant labourers and farm workers from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana have been registered. Besides bogus enrolment, there are many instances of multiple or fictitious identities. Panna Devi, wife of Chuhad Ram Singh, and Panna Devi Kaur, wife of Chuhad Singh, are registered as voter No 670 and 672 from house number 371. Actually, this is a case of one woman with two names.
Raja Ram Singh, who also resides in house number 371, has been registered twice on the list, with different “fathers”.
The name of Kuldeep Kaur (house number 383) appears thrice on the list – as voter No 804, 807 and 810. When contacted, Gidderbaha subdivisional magistrate Pushpinder Singh Kaile said, “Since we did not receive objections from villagers about bogus votes, all those who submitted forms were enrolled as voters.”
Regarding hundreds of voters from one house, he said it seemed a clerical mistake, while assuring to look into the matter. Kaile said a thorough probe and verification from officers concerned would be done.
“We have already alerted presiding officers, who have been given powers to deal with bogus or ineligible voters,” he claimed.
Local revenue patwari Gurpinder Singh said, “We prepared the voter list as per the forms submitted by villagers and the records available with us.”
Condemning the malpractices, former SGPC member Hardip Inder Singh Dhillon, who is also the CM’s cousin, said the Punjab government, Gurdwara Election Commission and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) were hand in glove. “Many of these voters are not even Sikhs,” he told HT.
Demanding the cancellation of existing voter lists, he said these should be revised and voters asked to carry identity cards while exercising their franchise.