Delhi Election Commission distributed voter IDs to 40 destitute persons at a camp

Around 40 homeless persons received voter identity cards on Wednesday at a camp conducted here by the Delhi Election Commission. The camp was organised at a Yamuna Pushta — an embankment — near Nigambodh Ghat.

Officials from the Central District Unit of the DEC said the camp was one of the many they had organised since late September in four out of the seven Assembly constituencies under their jurisdiction.

While all the recipients were excited about their newfound empowerment, few exhibited the requisite knowledge for voting — most of the homeless persons were unaware of which constituency they belonged to and knew little about the contestants or political parties in the fray.

Nevertheless, they all recognised the attendant benefits, beyond the political significance, of holding an identity card. “I am often subjected to police brutality; they question my whereabouts during night patrolling. I did not have an identity proof thus far but from here on I will produce my voter ID when asked for one,” said Sudhir, a newly-registered voter who lives in a night shelter next to the camp.

Others were gratified that they would now be eligible to avail the benefits of various government schemes they were barred from owing to lack of an identity proof.

Minor controversy

Following the distribution, many destitute persons complained that they did not get their cards during Wednesday’s camp. They alleged that the camp favoured those persons patronised by NGO Indo-Global Social Service Society’s CityMakers Programme. The organisation is one of the many to have teamed up with the authorities to facilitate the enrolment process.

Refuting the allegations, a DEC official said: “Since we [cannot achieve] maximum inclusion, we need these organisations to help us identify chunks of potential voters. Those who did not get their cards today [Wednesday] would get it in the coming days if their documents are verified.”

Since most of these people do not have a permanent address and hence any supporting documents, places where they usually found are considered as default locations. According to the DEC official, once the forms are filled, authorities make random visits to these locations. If the person is available during these verifications and re-verifications (the visits are made at least twice), his papers are processed further.

Almost 2,500 homeless persons have been registered in Central District so far.

The DEC has launched a drive in all the districts to enrol the maximum possible number of homeless persons as voters ahead of next month’s Assembly elections.

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