Punjab Assembly elections | Conjoined twins vote separately, given dark glasses for secrecy

Conjoined twins show inked finger after casting their ballot at a polling station on February 20, 2022, during the Punjab Assembly elections.

Conjoined twins show inked finger after casting their ballot at a polling station on February 20, 2022, during the Punjab Assembly elections. | Photo Credit: AFP

Amritsar-based Sohan Singh and Mohan Singh who are joined in the hip exercised their franchise for the first time in the Punjab assembly polls on Sunday.

The conjoined twins, fondly known as Sohna-Mohna, had recently been handed over two separate electoral photo identity cards by Punjab's Chief Electoral Officer S Karuna Raju.

They had turned 18 last year and became eligible to vote.

Officials said the conjoined twins were treated as two separate voters and special arrangements were made for them so that both could maintain the secrecy of their votes.

They said dark glasses were provided to them when they voted.

The twins live in Pingalwara, a charitable home for the destitute in the city. Born in June 2003 in Delhi, they were abandoned by their parents. Later, an orphanage in Amritsar adopted them.

Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, Gurpreet Singh Khera reached the polling booth where the conjoined twins exercised their franchise and handed over certificates to them as first-time voters.

They cast their votes at Mannawalla, about 10 kilometres from here.

"To maintain the secrecy of their votes from each other, they were given goggles," Khera said.

The headman of their village and other prominent persons were present outside the polling booth and the twins were welcomed with garlands.

"It's kind of a very unique case. Earlier the Election Commission had directed the authorities to do proper videography. They're conjoined but two separate voters. Arrangements of giving them goggles were made so that secrecy of their voting is maintained," Khera further said.

They are icons for persons with disabilities, he said.

The twins, while talking to PTI, said they are employed in the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) but draw only one salary.

They said they were extremely happy as they were able to exercise their voting rights.

In 2021 Sohna-Mohna got a job in the PSPCL after completing their diploma course for an electrician from an Industrial Training Institute.

The conjoined twins have two hearts, two pairs of arms, kidneys and spinal cords but a single liver, gall bladder, spleen and one pair of legs.

After their birth, they were taken to a hospital to carry out an operation to separate them where a team of experts opined that the delicate surgery could have led to the loss of at least one life.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2022 6:15:53 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/punjab-assembly/punjab-assembly-elections-conjoined-twins-vote-separately-given-dark-glasses-for-secrecy/article65068047.ece