KARNATAKA

Denied their right, Muslims seethe with rage

The affected: Voters who could not exercise their franchise showing their electors photo identity cards at Yarabnagar in Bangalore on Thursday.

The affected: Voters who could not exercise their franchise showing their electors photo identity cards at Yarabnagar in Bangalore on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Bangalore Bureau

The names of a large number of minority voters were found missing from the electoral list

Bangalore: Widespread complaints of exclusion of Muslims from electoral lists were reported from minority-dominated localities across the three Bangalore Urban parliamentary constituencies on Thursday.

Reporters from The Hindu who visited Yarabnagar, Madinanagar, Shivajingar, D.J. Halli, Fraser Town and many other localities found voters angry, yet helpless at being disenfranchised.

“I have lived here for 15 years in a permanent house. Every election day I have gone to the polling booth right after the morning prayers,” said a livid Mohammed Rehamath Ullah, the 70-year-old “mutuvalli” of Khaja mosque in Madinanagar in Bommanahalli, who has never missed his chance to vote in the Lok Sabha elections since 1962.

There were at least three ways in which people were denied their right to vote. First was the category of voters with EPICs acquired as recently as a few weeks ago who found their names missing.

The second was of persons who had voted earlier and who found their names stamped “deleted”.

Thirdly, in many cases names had been changed, mis-spelt or identities duplicated.

Deliberate?

The widespread perception in these localities was that minority votes had been deliberately eliminated as hundreds of voters found that they could not exercise their constitutional right to vote.

Ameer Jan, an autorickshaw driver, had taken a day’s off from work to vote. But when he arrived at Kaverinagar in Bangalore South (booth numbers 115), he found that his name and those of his mother Zaibunneesa and wife Parveen Taj were missing in the list.

Disappointment

Holding up his EPIC in one hand and his ration card in the other, Ibrahim Shariff (60) said: “I have shut my shop to vote, but my name is not on the list.” Out of the 11 voters in his family, only two had been included in the list. In this predominantly Muslim and working class pocket of the city this was only one of many such cases.

Abdul Wahid (57), a welder with the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), had a similar complaint.

Ward no. 79 in Shivajinagar (Bangalore Central) had 806 eligible voters, but by mid-morning nearly 250 people who had voted in the same polling booth during the 2008 Assembly elections found their names missing from the list.

Malar Nisha, a resident of Moore Road in Fraser Town, who got a new EPIC on March 18, was one of the 14 members of her family who had been turned away from the polling booth at Sir Ismail Sait Nursery School.

“The only two Muslim families in my lane (G-block) seem to have disappeared from the list,” she said.

At least four wards of Bharatinagar from Bangalore Central constituency reported cases of missing names. “Out of 1,092 voters on the roll in part 58 of Bharathinagar, 250 names were missing. The majority were Muslim,” said Azam, a resident who was keeping track of voting in four booths in this area.

Anger over missing names culminated in protests in some areas such as Yarabnagar.

There were rumours that some, whose names had been stamped “deleted”, were being allowed to vote by late evening if they had identity proof.

However, Bangalore city Police Commissioner Shankar M. Bidari denied this.

The Police Commissioner said: “there is no question of allowing people to vote if their names do not figure in the electoral roll even if they possess the EPIC. It is against election rules.”

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