Even as thousands of people across the city went to their respective polling stations for getting themselves enrolled as voters on Sunday, a motley group of residents from Hanumanthnagar were locked up inside the Government High School in the area, their designated polling station, for almost an hour.
B.V. Murthy, resident of Hanumanthnagar, who went to the school and found that his name did not figure on the list, realised after a little while that he had a bigger problem on hand. He, along with four others, including the electoral official Shivaji Rao, found that the grill gate was locked and the person who had done so was nowhere in sight. And they remained confined in the place for almost an hour during which time they did all to get a person with keys to open the lock.
Apparently, special classes were conducted for high school students in the morning and the teacher locked the grill gate after finishing the classes.
“I have been here since 11 a.m. We do not even know when the gates were locked. Around 1.45 p.m., we realised that the gate was locked” said Mr. Rao.
While five persons were trapped inside the premises, their presence behind the locked gate surprised many who came later to check whether their names figured on the voters’ list. While efforts were being made to get the gate opened, the electoral officer continued to do his job. He took the voter IDs of people, who came later, through the grill gate and checked whether their names were there on the list, and told people whose names did not figure as to what they needed to do.
In the meantime, the police were informed about the incident.
The police personnel rushed to the scene, contacted the school principal and brought to her notice the plight of the trapped persons. Though she reportedly told that someone would be sent to open the locked gate in 10 minutes, the wait for the trapped persons turned frustrating when the “10 minutes” stretched to nearly an hour.
A lady who was among those “locked up” fumed over the turn of events. “I need to leave as I have errands to run. How can they lock us up inside without even checking if anyone was around,” she said in dismay.
The five persons were finally “freed” at around 2.45 p.m. when a primary school teacher came with the gate key.
A school committee member said that only the entrance to the high school was kept open. “There is no security guard for the school so the teachers keep the keys usually,” he said.