By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: Additional Chief Electoral Officer (ACEO) Bhalang Dhar has maintained that there are no dubious voters in the State.
“The enrollment of the voters has been strictly carried out as per the guidelines laid down by the Election Commission (EC). There is no question of having any dubious voters in the State,” Dhar said while speaking to reporters here on Tuesday.
If anyone has any kind of doubts on the procedures which are being followed while enrolling the names in the electoral rolls, he said that they can always file a complaint.
“I do not think that any officer entrusted with the job would enroll anyone in the voters list without following the specified procedures since he is fully aware that he is would face stringent action if there are any lapses or omissions,” ACEO said.
He said that the EC is very clear that if any Election Returning Officer (ERO), Assistant Election Returning Officer (AERO) or any other person deployed to perform any official duty in connection with the preparation, revision and correction of an electoral roll or the inclusion or exclusion of any entry in or from that roll, without reasonable cause, is guilty breaching his official duty.
“He (the officer) shall be punishable under Section 32 of the Representation of People’s Act (RPA), 1950 with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three months but which may extend to two years plus a fine” he said. He further said that the officers would also have to think twice in manipulating with the enrollment process since the EC can always recommend to the State Government for termination of their service.
The ACEO further said that the NGOs are also free to file a complaint if they have doubts on individuals who have been enrolled.
“We can always act on the basis of the complaints by asking the person to provide the documents which would prove that he is a genuine citizen of India,” he said.
Dhar however pointed out that it would be difficult on their part to initiate any action through mere allegations.
“They (the NGOs) would need to substantiate with evidence to prove that the people who have been enrolled are doubtful people,” the ACEO said.
He said that the bone of contention of the NGOs is that they are not in favour that migrant workers from other States should be enrolled as voters in the State.
“But we cannot prevent genuine citizens who migrate from other parts of the country to register themselves as voters in the State. The Election Commission is very clear on this point that a genuine citizen can register himself/herself with any State if he/she has gone to settle there even for a day. It is the duty of the concerned Election official to get his/her name deleted from the State he/she originally belongs to,” Dhar said.
When asked if there is a rule which states that the person who shifted to other states is eligible to become a voter only if he stays in that place for more than 180 days, he said that this rule was applicable during the 1980’s.
“But as per the latest directive of the EC, the person is eligible to enroll in the voters list within a day after shifting to a new State from the State he originally belongs,” Dhar said.
He said that the NGOs are also against the enrollment of the Nepalese people.
“But here also there is a difficulty since they are also Nepalese of Indian origin. We cannot bar Nepalese who are Indians from enrolling themselves in the voters list,” the ACEO said.
They can always prevent Nepalese who are not ordinary citizens of India to get themselves enrolled, he said adding that as per the Indo-Nepal Treaty, 1950 they are only allowed to come and stay in the country.
“The Nepalese who migrates from Nepal is not eligible to vote,” Dhar said.
According to the ACEO, the NGOs might also have a problem seeing the MLAs helping the people from their constituency to enroll in the electoral rolls.
‘Personally, I feel that it is fine if the MLAs help the people who are genuine citizens to enroll themselves in the electoral roll,” Dhar added.
HNLC’s call: Meanwhile, taking strong cognizance of the rampant registration of ‘doubtful voters’ in the electoral rolls, the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Front (HNLC) has called upon the indigenous communities of the state to pressurize the state government to keep track of infiltration of illegal migrants to the State.
Referring to the recent census report, HNLC publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw in a statement the report indicated an increase in the number of non-locals in the state which has doubled and triple in these past few years.
In a press statement issued here on Tuesday, Nongtraw has slammed the state government for allowing non-locals to register their names in the electoral rolls, building of refugee camps, incidents in borders likewise in Block I and II at Langpih, construction of temples, encroachment of the army land.
“These are all the works of the government to oppress and eradicate our race”, Nongtraw said.