Unemployment, communal harmony on their minds, Nuh voters find EVMs daunting 

The three Assembly segments of Nuh, Ferozepur Jhirka and Punhana, had witnessed widespread communal violence during Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Jalabhishek Yatra last July which left six people dead and several injured

Updated - May 26, 2024 05:54 pm IST

Published - May 26, 2024 05:13 pm IST - Nuh

Women voters queue up at a polling station to cast vote in Haryana’s Nuh district on Saturday. 

Women voters queue up at a polling station to cast vote in Haryana’s Nuh district on Saturday.  | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Kariman, 70, and her sister-in-law Asira, 60, residents of Bhadas in Haryana’s Nuh, voted in the general and Assembly elections five years ago also but both were at a loss as they once again came face-to-face with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) when they turned up to exercise their franchise on Saturday.

And this, surprisingly, was not confined to a single polling station. Many men and women across the three Assembly segments of the Meo Muslim-dominated district falling in Gurgaon Lok Sabha constituency had a tough time casting their votes through the EVMs.

“More than half of the men and women, especially those above 50 years, faced difficulties in using the EVMs. As soon as they  reached the voting booth,  they got jittery and froze. The polling staff can do little about it as we are not allowed to go in that area, ” said Usman Khan, a presiding officer at booth no. 39 in Ferozepur Jhirka’s Bhadas.

Mr. Khan said the staff tried to explain the voting process using the cardboard model of EVM  at the booth, but that too was of little help. “Though companions are allowed to cast votes in case of infirm and physically handicapped voters adhering to a certain procedure, we cannot allow them to accompany any random voter,” Mr. Khan explained.

Ms. Kariman, 70, said she felt too intimidated and nervous in the presence of the polling staff and could not exercise her franchise. Her son Saad said he had explained the process to his mother and aunt before coming to the booth and showed them videos online, but still the two could not do it.

The polling staff at booth no. 80 in Ferozepur Namak too said that many women were not able to use the EVMs causing the voting process to slow down. Blaming it on rampant illiteracy in the region, the staff suggested the need for the authorities and the political parties to carry out a campaign to educate the voters. 

Vikas Yadav, presiding officer at Punhana’s Luhinga Kalan booth no. 140, said also faced a similar situation with the men and women not able to use the EVMs. “Even when they eventually managed to vote, it is difficult to say whether it was for  the candidate of their choice. Sometimes, they don’t press the button hard enough for their vote to get registered and walk away. So we asked them to come back and press the button again properly,” said Mr. Yadav.

Highest voters

As they lined up to vote on Saturday, unemployment, inflation and communal harmony weighed heavily on the minds of the voters in Nuh,  which has the highest number of around 25 lakh voters.

A resident of Nuh’s Ferozepur Namak, Mohammad Usman, 70, said  Junior Basic Teachers have not been hired on a regular basis for the past decade and more than 3,000 posts are lying vacant. “For me unemployment remains the most important issue in these elections. The vacancies, in most of the departments are being filled on contractual basis,” said Mr. Usman, a retired Haryana Irrigation Department employee. For 60-year-old Ameen, another resident of the village, the alleged discord created between  communities  was the biggest issue. Rising prices and high rate of unemployment were other important issues for him, he added.

The three Assembly segments of Nuh, Ferozepur Jhirka and Punhana, had witnessed widespread communal violence during Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Jalabhishek Yatra last July which left six people dead and several injured.

Sumati, 40, who had come to vote along with her husband Israil, said large chunks of their agricultural land was acquired by the government to construct Police Lines and a judicial complex, but the villagers suffered without any source of livelihood, and lack of basic amenities. “We need to hire water tankers to meet our daily drinking water needs. There is no power at night. There is no development,” complained Israil, 50, a daily wager.

Wasim Akram, 28, a resident of Malab in Ferozepur Jhirka, said he had voted against the rampant corruption and lack of infrastructure in Nuh. Pointing at the Gurgaon-Alwar National Highway passing through his village, Mr. Akram, a matriculate, said the locals’ long-pending demand to widen it was yet to be fulfilled. For Jagriti, who turned up to vote with a group of women, the wait for a drinking water tap at home was endless. “They have laid the pipeline, but there is no drinking water,” she said.

Young Sania, pursuing Masters of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Rohtak’s Maharishi Dayanad University, said she had cast her vote for quality education and higher educational institutes in her district. Standing next to her, Sahiba and Asira, both B.A. (Final) students, waiting for their turn to vote at a polling station in Bhadas,  said they went to college once in six months only to take the exams since there were no teachers.

In Punhana’s Luhinga Kalan, Shahid, 28, a truck driver, said he had voted for a “change”. Most of the people in Nuh are truck drivers leading a nomadic life since there is no industry and no jobs, he added. 

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