Ghosi Bypoll: Muslim Voters Allege Cops ‘Misbehaved’, Missing Names, Votes Already Cast
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
Lucknow: Shaheen Khatoon, a resident of Kopaganj in Ghosi constituency, was stunned when she got to know that her vote was already cast even before she had reached the polling booth on Tuesday morning. She had to return home after she was not allowed to cast her vote after waiting for an hour.
“I was told at the booth that my vote has already been cast. When I raised an objection, some officials at the polling booth asked me to wait. After an hour, I had to return as no action was taken," she told NewsClick, adding that action should be taken against whoever is responsible for this.
Shaheen had her voters’ identity card, voter slip issued by the booth level officer (BLO) and Aadhaar card but she was not allowed to use her franchise.
Saleem Ansari, a 65-year-old powerloom worker, walked nearly a kilometre to a polling centre in Ghosi but returned home disappointed after police allegedly did not let him vote.
Shaheen and Saleem’s was not an isolated case. Throughout Tuesday, there were reports that despite their names being on the voter’s list, many Muslims were told to go back since their votes had already been cast.
Meanwhile, people in several wards complained that they were finding it difficult to find their names on the voters’ list. Though they had their voters’ identity cards and Aadhaar card, they found that their names were missing. The help centres manned by volunteers from different political parties near the polling stations were besieged by citizens anxious about finding the booth where they could cast their votes.
Villagers in Fatehpur Narja Tal also alleged that Circle Officer (CO) Vineet Singh allegedly deprived Muslim voters from using their franchise. Singh, they alleged, was driving voters away by snatching voter ID cards and Aadhaar cards.
"Even after having four ID cards, we were not allowed to go inside polling booths. Muslim people were identified by cops and made to wait separately and then were told to go home. The CO Vineet Singh snatched our voter slips and IDs and threatened to take legal action against us. When we resisted, he used force. He said he would not let us vote and asked us to go home. He also said that he would put us in jail if we come back to vote again," a voter told NewsClick.
Subhan Khan of Adari said he reached the polling centre early only to return frustrated. "The booth officer told me my name was not on the list and that I should check at another centre," he said.
Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has accused the administration of sabotaging bye-elections to Ghosi parliamentary seat in eastern Uttar Pradesh even as voting was underway at 239 polling booths located in 455 polling centres at the time of writing this story.
The SP alleged that ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) agents prevented Muslim voters from exercising their rights. The party has also written to the Election Commission, alleging that Muslims were being prevented from casting their votes.
NewsClick has reported earlier that police “were “gearing up to prevent Muslim voters from voting by stating that if the name on their identification documents does not match the exact name present on the voter’s list, they will not be allowed to cast a vote”.
Till 5 p.m, Ghosi recorded a turnout of 49.42%. Counting for the bypoll will be held on September 8.
In the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the current BJP candidate, Dara Singh Chauhan had defeated BJP’s Vijay Kumar Rajbhar by a margin of 22,216 votes. He has now switched sides. Ghosi had recorded a polling percentage of 58.59.
In the bypoll, Chauhan is being supported by NDA partners Apna Dal (Sonelal), Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal (NISHAD) Party and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, a former SP ally.
On the other hand, Samajwadi Party candidate Sudhakar Singh has received support from INDIA bloc constituents -- the Congress, CPI(M), CPI, RLD, AAP, CPI(ML)-Liberation and Suheldev Swabhiman Party.
This time round, the Ghosi bypoll is a straight fight between BJP’s Chouhan and SP’s Singh, who is being backed by Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal. Interestingly, Chauhan won this seat in the 2022 polls on a SP ticket. He quit SP to join BJP in July this year, which necessitated the bypoll.
The bypoll will have no bearing on the BJP government, which enjoys a comfortable majority in the 403-member state assembly. However, its outcome could be an indicator of what is in store for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Of the nearly 4.30 lakh voters in Ghosi, it is estimated that around 90,000 are Muslims, 60,000 Dalits, 45,000 Bhumihars,16,000 Rajputs and 6,000 Brahmins.
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