Hyderabad: Polling percentages in the upcoming GHMC elections may decline in areas that were badly affected by floods where several families seem to have lost their identity documents, including the Election Commission of India issued voter identity cards.
Due to the devastating floods that recently hit Hyderabad, several low-lying areas like Tolichowki, Shaikpet, Hafiz Baba Nagar, Al-Jubail Colony, Ganga Nagar and Madina Colony have been severely affected. Houses were inundated by more than 10 feet deep water. Educational certificates, property and other mandatory documents like the Aadhaar card, voter identity card and driving license etc., were damaged.
As per EC rules, 13 documents, including passport, driving license, ration card and photo identity card issued by a government authority is acceptable as an alternative to the voter identity cards for the purpose of casting a vote. But many families complained that during rains, their documents, including voter identity cards, were damaged and they could not yet get duplicate copies.
Take the case of Mohammed Asif, a resident of B Block, Hafiz Baba Nagar. He said he had kept property documents in his car along with other documents like educational certificates. His car got washed away in the rains. Other identity proofs of his entire family have been damaged as rainwater entered their home.
He complained that when he approached governmental offices for obtaining certified duplicate copies of documents, he was asked to apply along with an FIR issued by the police station concerned. The Kanchan Bagh police is reluctant to issue an FIR immediately.
“Until I finish the cumbersome and complicated formalities, I will not be able to obtain duplicate copies of my original documents,” he said. “Without documents, how can we prove our identity enough to cast a vote? The government should make an alternative to resolve this problem to ensure every citizen gets to franchise his or her vote.”
In the Al-Jubail Colony, one of the worst hit amongst all areas, Mohammed Aslam Khan, a resident, said, “my voter ID card and passport have all gotten washed away in flood waters. We did not have enough time to make a new one. To vote in the GHMC elections, we only have our Aadhar card. If they allow us to vote with Aadhar, then only we will be able to. Else, we can’t. We want to vote because we are the worst affected.”
Another resident of C-block, Baba Nagar, Mohammed Ahsan Ali JD, said, “I am worried that our family members may not be able to exercise our right to vote in the GHMC elections as our voter identity cards and other valid documents were damaged.”
While these widespread concerns remain, there is a major concern also about use of fake voter identity cards by some, taking advantage of the floods. Asif Hussain Sohail, an activist, claimed that he has personally seen flood victims who have lost all their documents.
“Flood victims have complained that their documents were lost or damaged. This is a serious issue. It is not correct to deprive a section of people from exercising their right to vote. But we can’t deny the possibilities of using fake voter documents to prove identity by some,” Sohail said.
The State Election Commission has neither announced an alternative for such voters who lost their documents in the floods nor has it provided them with a fresh voter ID card.
“The SEC has not spoken about how it will prevent impersonation,” he said, adding that the body should monitor voting in flood impacted areas carefully to ensure there are no discrepancies or ill-practices....