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Lok Sabha elections 2019: They may be too young to vote, but not to help out the disabled, elderly

This was the first time the election commission has enlisted the help of school students of Delhi government schools as volunteers at polling stations.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: May 13, 2019 09:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The girls had to report at the booth at 5.30am. “We are so excited to be a part of the electoral process. It’s a proud day for us all,” Kulsum, 17, said.
The girls had to report at the booth at 5.30am. “We are so excited to be a part of the electoral process. It’s a proud day for us all,” Kulsum, 17, said.(HT Photo)
         

Waving three 100 rupee notes on Sunday evening, 16-year-old Nisha was brimming with excitement as she displayed her “first salary”. To earn the ₹300, she had spent 12 hours — from 6am to 6pm — escorting voters to booths and assisting them in the scorching heat on Sunday.

“There were a few visually impaired voters who had come and I assisted them from the moment they stepped out of their cars till they voted and got back into vehicles. Some senior citizens really appreciated the gesture and gave me their blessings,” she said, while waiting for voters at the two polling booths at Nirman Bhawan in the New Delhi constituency.

This was the first time the election commission has enlisted the help of school students of Delhi government schools as volunteers at polling stations.

Nisha and her classmate Lata (17) from Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Pandara Road, were dropped at the polling stations by their parents at 5.45am. “Thankfully, we brought lunch from home. They (poll officials) had sent lunch for us but it never reached us after a few policemen took the packets for security check — this is a high-profile polling station,” Lata said.

Seven class 12 girls at Zeenat Mehal Senior Secondary School in Jafrabad were seen assisting physically challenged persons, senior citizens and lactating mothers who had come to vote at the polling station in their school on Sunday.

The girls had to report at the booth at 5.30am. “We are so excited to be a part of the electoral process. It’s a proud day for us all,” Kulsum, 17, said.

The girls were given a day-long training by the EC on May 2. “We were told how to communicate with the speech- and hearing-impaired voters and how to help the physically challenged voters while shifting them into wheelchairs. We were told to be polite,” Nighat, another student, said.

Around 2pm, the girls were taking a short break over a cold drink and samosas, when a senior citizen entered the polling centre. “See, there is no break for us. It’s a long day but by far, the most exciting one of my life. I will never forget it,” Zeba Chaudhary, another volunteer, said.

Yashika Bhat and her friend Kritika Sharma, both class 12 students of Government Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in West Vinod Nagar, helped nearly 12 physically challenged people within two hours of polling on Sunday.

“Things are well-organised here, as it is a model polling station. But there are a few people, especially the physically challenged and the elderly, who need assistance. We are just helping them with their wheelchairs, getting them water and other things they need,” Bhat said.

At the MCD primary school in Kondli Village, students and volunteers from Nehru Yuva Kendra were busy phoning people with disabilities from a list given to them to check if they needed assistance to reach the polling booth. “We phoned nearly 57 people to offer assistance. We sent volunteers to their homes. We are making sure that those who need wheelchairs get them on time. Nearly 70% people we had phoned came to vote,” Pawan Singh, a volunteer with the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, said.

First Published: May 13, 2019 06:13 IST

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