If the ‘updated and latest’ list of voters by the election office is to be believed, Ludhiana district has 359 voters aged 100 and above, but the reality is that many of these ‘centenarians’ are dead in reality. In fact, some in the list have been dead for a decade now. A majority of family members claimed that they got the votes cancelled but despite that, the names of dead relatives continue to feature in the voter list.
Hindustan Times found at least eight such names on the list who are dead in reality. Besides, the list not only reveals the total number of such voters but also their addresses, and they will ‘supposedly’ be voting on February 4 – the day of the Vidhan Sabha elections. Now, interestingly, officials from the district elections tehsildar office (DETO) are not only claiming this but even the returning officers believe that the dead will rise to vote on February 4.
A visit to many of these residential addresses revealed that the voters are dead. In Ludhiana West alone, there are three homes in Raj Guru Nagar who refuted the claims of this list. One of the voters who is mentioned as a 101-year-old in the list, died six years back while two more voters aged 102 and 100 died four and two years back according to kin, who were shocked to know that their dead family members still existed on electoral rolls. One of the family members was quick to say, “We got the vote cancelled, so why is the name still there? Wish those who compiled the data had checked with us.”
In Ludhiana East, a Tajpur Road resident was also shocked to learn that the DETO mentioned his father’s name in 2017 voter list even after his death 12 years back. He also underlined that he got the vote cancelled. The same goes for Ludhiana Central where another resident said it was two years since his grandmother died but her name lives on in the list.
However, when returning officers were informed of the loopholes, they were quick to blame DETO officials who had compiled the list.
“All the returning officers were handed lists by DETO officials and we were told they contained data of those who will vote on February 4. The same lists have been passed on to the media by us but it’s unfortunate to hear of these shortcomings,” said a returning officer, requesting anonymity.
There were some returning officers who were unaware if there were voters aged 100 and above in their constituencies. Several addresses are incomplete and phone numbers are also missing from the list.
Deputy commissioner-cum-district elections officer Ravi Bhagat said, “I will get this verified from concerned officials.”
Figures compiled by DETO
From among all the 14 constituencies, Ludhiana South has the largest number of 100 plus voters - 66 - followed by Samrala and Jagraon with 47 and 29. Ludhiana Central and Ludhiana North contribute the least with 11 each that makes 22 voters. They are followed by Gill with 14 and Payal with 19 such voters. These numbers also include those who are dead.