Of 49 lakh voters in Himachal Pradesh, only 12 are transgender
At a time when Himachal Pradesh has a social security scheme for 2,500-odd registered transgenders, the low number is baffling; officials claim social stigma to blame for low voter enrolment in the category.Updated: Sep 27, 2017 09:55 IST
For a state that is the third in the country to start a Rs 1,000 per month social security pensions for its 2,500-odd registered transgender population, Himachal Pradesh’s voter list tells a different story. Of 49 lakh registered voters on the electoral roll published on September 15, there are only 12 transgenders. The number of Non-Resident Indian (NRI) voters is just four. There are 24.98 lakh male voters with women vote strength at 24.07 lakh. The dates for elections to the state assembly are not announced, but the expectation is that of pools being held in December. The term of the assembly ends on January 7, 2018.
No official record of transgender population
There is no official record of the transgender population in the state, but based on experience and anecdotal evidence, state government officials peg it anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000.
In Himachal, transgenders are scattered in every constituency but their presence is more in areas bordering Punjab and Haryana.
Yet, the state’s department of social justice and minority affairs has set a target of disbursing social security pension to at least 200 transgenders in 2007-18 that ends on March 31, 2018.
There is no clarity on how many have been given the social security as of now, even as Tamil Nadu and Orissa are the only two other states offering this scheme.
‘Stigma attached hinders identification’
The government claims the huge mismatch between what it believes on the number of transgenders and what the electoral roll shows is a problem related to identity. “Like other states, transgenders in Himachal Pradesh are not organised. They usually are mixed in with the general population. There is also a social stigma attached and most transgenders do not want to reveal their identity,” said a government official.
“In Himachal, transgenders are scattered in every constituency but their presence is more in areas bordering Punjab and Haryana,” said Dr Sandeep Bhatnagar, director, social welfare and minority affairs department.
He also claimed that the social stigma remained a stumbling block to knowing the exact number of transgenders in the state. “With the number unclear and not many coming forward, the process of giving pensions to them as slowed down,” Bhatnagar added. The state government has also set up facilities for transgenders like medical aid in districts.
“The process of preparation for the last part of the state’s electoral roll (services) is on. We have received only 63,200 forms so far,” Pushpendra Rajput, Himachal Pradesh chief electoral officer told HT.
Over 40,000 first-time voters on electoral roll
On the latest electoral roll, there are 1.25 lakh new voters. Of these, 40,567 are the first-time voters in the age group of 18-19, CEO Rajput said. On the old list, the election commission also found names of 47,523 people who were dead.
Over 6,800 polling booths to be set up
“This time, the commission will set up the system of ‘Electronically Transmitted Postal ballot system in the all 68 constituencies for benefit of army personnel and other designated categories allowed this facility,” CEO Rajput added. A total of 7,479 polling stations will be set up at 6,820 polling booths. There will be 37 auxiliary polling stations.
Campaign to encourage voters
The commission has said that it will organise participative and people – friendly Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) campaign to transform the campaign into a people movements to create festive buzz about the forthcoming elections “All media including indoor, cinema hall, video vans and social media will be used to ensure voters get their names in the updated rolls and actually turnout to vote,” Rajput added. The model code of conduct for the polls is likely to come into effect in the first week of October.
First Published: Sep 27, 2017 09:52 IST