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Systematic Exclusion of Muslims During Polling to Sabotage Their Electoral Choices: Watchdog

Many people’s names were deleted from the electoral roll and were not allowed to vote despite having their names in the voter list and possessing all valid documents, the group observed

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — There was a systematic exclusion of Muslims and the working class during the polling in Delhi aiming to suppress and sabotage their electoral choices, found Independent Election Observers.

Citizen’s Watch, a group of citizens and activists monitoring the electoral process, formed teams of Independent Election Observers (IEO) to keep eye on the function of the election commission to conduct free and fair elections.

In a report released on Friday, the group said “Missing voters and deletion of voters were among the most actively heard complaints by IEO teams in the field. Many people’s names were deleted from the electoral roll and were not allowed to vote despite having their names in the voter list and possessing all valid election identity documents. 

Unfortunately, this is not a uniform trend and instead the majority of voters impacted from this were from the Muslim community, which points towards an orchestrated institutional exclusion”.

The group has done the physical monitoring of the election process by nearly 380 volunteers associated with the IEO across the seven constituencies of Delhi and in the adjacent Faridabad and Gurgaon areas of NCR. It had stationed teams in sensitive areas and nearly about 20 teams moved around across polling stations in every constituency with an identification that was issued by the IEO process. The teams said they observed various kinds of discrepancies in the process and the violation of MCC and criminal apathy of the ECI.

According to the report, the teams noticed that the Election Commission of India orchestrated mis-governance to dissuade certain sections of voters through a disproportionate number of voters in booths in the working class and Muslim localities. In contrast, booths in posh localities or Hindu middle class areas had fewer numbers of voters.

The disproportionate number of voters in the Muslim localities and the working class “makes it practically impossible to cast votes within the limited time of 11 hours between 7am to 6pm”.

The report noted “On an average, the middle class areas of the city have 1100 voters while in Muslim areas you see the numbers jumping up by over 450 votes, to 1550 votes per polling booth. Similarly in AAP/Congress favoring working class areas, the average voters per booth stands around 1500 per booth. In some Muslim areas like Jaitpur-II, Jamia Nagar and Shaheen Bagh, the numbers stood at an alarming 1650-1700 voters per booth! The key question is about the calculation made by ECI in making such cramped allocation to such booths, while the average time taken per votes cast is 50 seconds to one minute”.

It added “So it is evident that even under the most efficient management systems, no more than 750-800 votes can be cast in one polling booth, displaying an architectural negligence or worse, criminal conspiracy that has been executed to make sure that voters wouldn’t be able to cast their constitutional right”.

The report pointed out that slow voting was one of the most persistent issues in the booths in the working class- specially in Muslim and Dalit localities. A number of complaints were filed with the ECI but the slow voting continued.

Violation of MCC by the BJP workers around the booth was noticed in many localities.

“BJP workers were seen raising their party flag and shouting slogans. In many places, our volunteers, in their capacity as citizens and IEO members, openly objected to visual campaigns by BJP cadres,” stated the report.

The report also drew attention towards the excessive mobilisation of police, paramilitary and home guard forces in Muslim dominated areas all through the city.

“While this was being done under the garb of ‘guarding sensitive booths’, in reality it served as a crude reminder to the 2020 violence in North East Delhi and during lockdown, when Muslim community was at the receiving end of communal hatred and prejudice! However, the interventions by community elders, mature police officers and civil society groups helped in calming the tempers down rather than turning into violent clashes,” it noted.

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