Voters brave odds in Kishanganj

PTI | ByAnirban Guha Roy and RA Khan Rahi, Kishanganj
May 06, 2004 01:41 PM IST

Contrary to the general apprehension of large-scale violence, Kishanganj witnessed largely incident-free and peaceful polling.

Endless wait, untiring spirit & triumph of democracy

Contrary to the general apprehension of large-scale violence and poll irregularities, Kishanganj Lok Sabha constituency witnessed largely incident-free and peaceful polling on Wednesday.

Union textile minister and BJP nominee Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, Mohammed Taslimuddin of the RJD and Abdul Jalil Mastan of the Samajwadi Party were among the prominent candidates contesting the seat.

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Curious electorates, who turned up in large numbers braving the scorching sun to vote for first time through electronic voting machines (EVMs), however, appeared a bit disappointed. Names of a large number of voters at majority of 1227 booths across this high-profile constituency had allegedly been deleted from the electoral roll. The EVMs were definitely a big draw with the voters here, but remained out of order at some of the booths.

Such was the scale of electoral roll irregularities that it triggered a group clash between supporters of the RJD and the BJP near booth no. 181 at Dey market here. The CRPF personnel had to resort to mild lathi-charge to contain trouble that left three persons injured. District magistrate K Sinthel Kumar, however, did not confirm the incident.

The voters invariably alleged that names were deleted ‘intentionally’ on community lines. At a Mahiharpur booth (no. 68) in Kochadhaman block, 270 names were deleted from the voters’ list of 1293 persons. “Kikarrum. Naamey kaet gel (What do I do? A large number of names, including mine, have been deleted),” rued Sakir Alam.

Tension brewed in early hours of polling near booth nos. 157 and 156 in the town when voters of a particular community charged the administration with foul play. “You can see it for yourself. The way names of persons belonging to a particular community have been erased from the voters’ list is not fair,” remarked a youth, Ashgar Ali, who charged that mostly names of voters in the age group of 18-20 had been deleted.

The scene was no better in rural areas where voters were at their wits’ end, not finding their names in the electoral roll. Said Jakir Khan, a resident of Sathal village in Bahadurganj assembly segment, “I have been voting since last several years. Though I have an identity card, my name has been omitted this time.” Many others possessing photo identity cards (PICs) made similar complaints.

That was not all. There were unconfirmed reports that the son of RJD candidate and MLA from Jokihat, Sarfaraj, and his supporters had captured some booths.

The voters here were not too happy by the pace of polling. At a few booths, including the one at middle school, Simulbari, polling started at 8.45 am as the EVM was not functioning. Till 10 am only 79 votes had been cast at this booth.

The same was the picture at booth number 195 at Bahadurganj where only 221 votes had been cast till 11 am. Alleged Barun Kumar Singh, a businessman, who had come to vote: “I am standing in the queue since 9 am, but my turn has not come as yet. The polling personnel are deliberately delaying the polling.” His allegation was not unfounded as in many places the voters complained that presiding officers and security personnel had ‘directed’ the voters, especially women, to press the button against a particular symbol.

Such instances were, however, small in number as the voters in general were not in two minds whom to vote for. And, they did it with aplomb.

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