By Our Correspondent, TNT News | TURA, Jan 17, 2018:
With complaints of dubious voters in Tripura being one of the reasons for the delay in the announcement of election dates for the states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura, it is possible that the plain belt of West Garo Hills faces the same problem and hence should be under the Election Commission of India (ECI)’s radar for the presence of similar voters.
Earlier, the Centre for Environment Protection and Rural Development (CEPARD) – Phulbari Circle had raised the issue of dual voters leading to hundreds queuing up outside the election office in Tura, West Garo Hills to deregister after the administration took a tough stance on some cases brought to its notice.
After that however, the issue died down though the trend of dual voters enlisting continued.
Dual voting is by law illegal, violation of which can land you in jail or fine or both. However, due to the lack of a system to check dual voting, many unscrupulous men have been encouraging it for their own benefit.
“The issue has been a long pending one and needs immediate attention. Unfortunately, it is impossible to check the menace as individuals or groups due to the vastness of the population and the close proximity between the states,” said Treepon Sangma, the president of the circle.
Dual voters are present in almost all constituencies of the plain belt including Tikrikilla, Phulbari, Rajabala and Selsella.
Incidentally, the problem of NRC in Assam has also added to the number of de-registered people from Assam to join Meghalaya. The trend is expected to rise further in the coming months as the Assam government is expected to crack down on those who cannot submit identity papers.
“Influx has been a huge problem here as unscrupulous people derive benefits from both states and central schemes. They also vote in both states causing a bloating of voting figures. Is it permissible to vote in Assam two years ago and again vote for Meghalaya this year? A serious crackdown is definitely required,” said a resident of Phulbari on the condition of anonymity.
Prior to the last elections in 2013, the matter had been raised by another activist, Bappun A Sangma, who also submitted proof of such people.
“Dual voting has been a reality for a long time and mainly came about after Assam residents were allowed to settle in Meghalaya due to flooding of the Brahmaputra. They, however, never went back and enjoyed privileges of both states. Also there was no serious thought given to omit their names from the list,” said Bappun.
The issue is likely raise its head once again as many cases of such voters still exists and will likely be the deciding factor in the upcoming elections, expected to be held next month.
“These people have been enjoying state and central benefits from two states and will continue to do so until the administration wakes up to reality and acts against them. Till them all we can do is hope,” added another resident.